Xolair "Add-On" Useful in Uncontrolled Asthma

Individuals with severe persistent asthma who fail to gain adequate control despite standard treatment with multiple anti-asthma drugs, may benefit from the addition of Xolair (omalizumab), a study suggests. Xolair is a laboratory-generated monoclonal antibody that is given by injection once or twice a month. It is designed to bind to IgE, a naturally-occurring antibody, and prevent it from triggering the release of chemicals that provoke asthma and allergy attacks. In the study, 419 patients with severe persistent asthma were randomized to Xolair or placebo for 28 weeks. All patients were receiving high doses of inhaled corticosteroids plus so-called long-acting beta2-agonists and two thirds were receiving additional controller medications including 22% who were taking oral corticosteroids. All patients impaired lung function and a history of recent asthma attacks. They report that Xolair was associated with a 26% reduction in the rate of clinically significant asthma exacerbations compared with placebo. Xolair add-on also significantly reduced the rate of severe asthma attacks and emergency room visits and led to "meaningful improvement" in asthma related quality-of-life, study investigator Dr. Phillip Korenblat from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis told Reuters Health. Xolair, he said, "should be considered in this group of patients with severe persistent asthma who continue to have unmet needs despite the best available therapy." These results will be presented next week at the 61st annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in San Antonio. The study was sponsored by Novartis Pharma AG and Genentech, manufacturers of Xolair.

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