Omalizumab: the evidence for its place in the treatment of allergic asthma
Diarmuid M. McNicholl, Liam G. Heaney
Regional Respiratory Centre, Belfast City Hospital, Belfast, UK
Introduction: Asthma is a chronic inflammatory airways disease associated with reversible airflow obstruction and bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Asthma is prevalent worldwide and results in significant morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs, the majority of which arise from those with severe disease. Omalizumab is a monoclonal antibody to immunoglobulin E (IgE) that has been developed for the treatment of severe persistent allergic (IgE mediated) asthma.
Aims: The aim of this review is to evaluate the available clinical evidence on omalizumab to determine the role it has to play in the treatment of persistent allergic asthma.
Evidence review: There is clear evidence to show that omalizumab is effective in reducing the rate of asthma exacerbations, inhaled corticosteroid dose, and the need for rescue medication in patients with allergic asthma. Clinical data indicate beneficial effects on patient-reported symptoms and perceived quality of life, as well as a reduction in unscheduled healthcare visits. There is little evidence to suggest omalizumab may enhance lung function or reduce the requirement for oral corticosteroids. Omalizumab has a favorable safety profile, although anaphylaxis has occurred. A study in children showed similar results to those achieved in adults and adolescents, with fewer asthma exacerbations and school days missed. Omalizumab may be cost effective in patients when used as add-on therapy to inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta2 agonists (LABA).
Place in therapy: Omalizumab is an effective add-on therapy to inhaled corticosteroids and LABAs in adults and adolescents with severe persistent allergic asthma. Currently there is insufficient evidence to support the use of omalizumab in children.
Key words: allergic asthma, omalizumab, immunoglobulin E, evidence
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