Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a chronic, progressive fibrotic interstitial lung disease of unknown origin. It is a difficult disease to diagnose and often requires the collaborative expertise of a consultant respiratory physician, radiologist and histopathologist to reach a consensus diagnosis. Most people with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis experience symptoms of breathlessness, which may initially be only on exertion. Cough, with or without sputum, is a common symptom. Over time, these symptoms are associated with a decline in lung function, reduced quality of life and ultimately death.

The median survival for people with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in the UK is approximately 3 years from the time of diagnosis. However, about 20% of people with the disease survive for more than 5 years. The rate of disease progression can vary greatly. A person's prognosis is difficult to estimate at the time of diagnosis and may only become apparent after a period of careful follow-up.

This guideline contains recommendations on the diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and delivery of care to people with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, from initial suspicion of the disease and referral to a consultant respiratory physician, to best supportive care and disease-modifying treatments.

The guideline will assume that prescribers will use a drug's summary of product characteristics to inform decisions made with individual patients.

This guideline recommends some drugs for indications for which they do not have a UK marketing authorisation at the date of publication, if there is good evidence to support that use. The prescriber should follow relevant professional guidance, taking full responsibility for the decision. The patient (or those with authority to give consent on their behalf) should provide informed consent, which should be documented. See the General Medical Council's Good practice in prescribing and managing medicines and devices for further information. Where recommendations have been made for the use of drugs outside their licensed indications ('off-label use'), these drugs are noted in the recommendations.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)