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Friday, January 3, 2014

A new asthma drug?

The New York Times reports that a new asthma medication, dupilumab, is being tested by Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.  It's for patients whose asthma is not well controlled by other asthma medications.

So far, the results of the 12 week study look promising, since asthma attacks decreased by 87% (compared to those not getting the drug). Woah!!! That's amazing! The drug also improved lung function and the control of the disease. As an added bonus, the research shows it also helps with atopic dermatitis (eczema)

They think the drug might be able to block numerous allergic conditions. And since many of us who have asthma also have allergies, it would be exciting if it worked for allergies too (all of you that suffer from hay fever know I'm talking about....)

Dupilumab works on the interleukin-4 and interleukin-13, they are two inflammatory chemicals that they think are involved in asthma. In the study, dupilumab was given by injection once a week for 12 weeks to patients. However, they will need longer and larger studies for several years to see how well the drug really works.

I'm not sure how some people would feel getting injections EVERY week to control their asthma. Of course, my teenagers have done that the last for 5 years with allergy shots.  So, what's one more shot?

There is another asthma medication already on the market that is given by injection for those with moderate to severe allergic asthma (whose asthma can't be controlled by other medications.) Xolair has been on the market since 2003.  It is given by injection once or twice a month. Son #2 has been getting Xolair injections for the last 6 years. It's been the only thing that has helped keep him out of the hospital. He has been so bad twice, that they had the "crash car" right outside his hospital room. So if he stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest, they could revive him. Bad memories :(

Dupilumab seems to work on the inflammatory level. Xolair works on the antibody level to reduce allergic reactions. Many asthma attacks can be triggered by an allergen.

Sometimes, asthma can be difficult to control. There are things you can do to your home to make it more allergy and asthma friendly. The Environmental Protection Agency has more info about that. If you have already made changes to your home and are taking your medicine EXACTLY like the doctor told you to, and are still having a hard time, talk to your doctor about what else you can do.

Xolair may be an option now, and maybe dupilumab down the road. Keep in mind that Xolair is VERY expensive-when Son #2 started on it 6 years ago, it was $1000 an injection. So, I know it's gone up since then. But what do you do when it literally keeps your son alive? You pay for it! Luckily insurance covers most of the cost. Our insurance company probably hates us.....but oh well. My son is alive, and that's all that matters! :)


  1. What will be... We will see.
    Last time I watch film about Tristan da Cunha, island where 50% citizens have asthma because of genetic reason. I'd visit this island for my curiosity :)
    I wish You very happy New Year :)

  2. Interesting. It'd be great if they could develop the shot to be administered at home. How did doctors determined that Xolair would help your son? What specific allergies were causing his asthma to flair?

    1. I would never have the shot at home, for the same reason we don't do allergy shots at home. There is a risk for an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). The doctor's office must act FAST or the airway will close off and you can die.

      The National Guidelines have a "step chart" that shows how to increase or decrease asthma medicine-depending on symptoms.

      My son was on the maximum dose of all medications prescribed for asthma. Xolair was the only other option. Your doctor should have a chart and show you how it works :)