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How Effective Is Omalizumab for Asthma?

Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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Omalizumab for asthma can reduce the incidence and severity of attacks in patients with asthma caused by allergies to inhaled allergens like pet dander. Researchers working with this medication have documented a significant improvement in quality of life for patients who are good candidates for omalizumab therapy. Recommendations in publications like The New England Journal of Medicine show that it can be an effective addition to a patient’s asthma treatment plan, and may reduce the reliance on inhaled steroids and other medications for asthma control.

This medication works by binding to immunoglobulins to decrease the severity of allergic reactions. People with asthma that is exacerbated by year-round exposure to allergens who receive sufficiently high scores on allergy testing can be treated with omalizumab for asthma. The drug does not work for general allergy management and is not effective in patients with asthma linked to other causes, like exercise-induced attacks. A doctor may recommend treatment for patients who do not receive adequate control from medications alone, including both maintenance steroids and rescue inhalers.

Patients need to receive intramuscular injections of omalizumab for asthma on a regular basis to keep levels of the medication sufficiently high. A doctor may prefer to administer injections in a clinic, to provide an opportunity to monitor patients for bad reactions to the drug. Side effects of omalizumab for asthma can include infections at the injection site, headache, and sinus infections. Some patients experience extreme reactions and may need to discontinue the medication.

Clinical trials on omalizumab for asthma show that patients taking this medication can experience fewer asthma attacks overall, and may not need to use high dose steroids to control their asthma. In addition, when patients do require hospitalization because of the severity of their asthma, the length of hospital stays can be significantly shorter. The improved control over asthma can improve quality of life, reduce stress for the patient, and limit the chances of severe asthma complications.

Not all patients can safely use omalizumab for asthma. It is not indicated for all asthmatic patients, and others may be at risk of adverse reactions because of underlying conditions, medication conflicts, or unanticipated allergies to the drug. If a doctor feels a patient is a good candidate for the treatment, the risks and benefits can be discussed. Patients may want to ask about available alternatives so they can understand all their options before deciding on a course of therapy.

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