How does biologic therapy treat severe asthma?

Asthma is a complex disease. Many patients are able to control asthma with inhaler therapy. But some patients with severe asthma have episodes of frequent symptoms and episodes where the asthma gets much worse even when they use more than one inhaler. Now there are new options called biologic therapy to help patients with severe asthma. Biologic therapies offer new ways of treatment because they target different molecules in the body that contribute to asthma.

What are the types of biologic therapy drugs for treating asthma?

Xolair® (omalizumab)

  • Xolair is a medication for patients with poorly controlled asthma and allergies to year-round allergens like dust mites, pet dander, or cockroach debris. Xolair blocks the antibody that causes an allergic asthma response.
  • Xolair is given as one or two subcutaneous injections (shots given under the skin), depending on the dose prescribed.
  • It is given every 2 or 4 weeks, depending on the dose prescribed.
  • After you receive a dose of medication, most infusion centers will monitor you for a period of time to make sure you do not have any reactions to the medication.
  • The most common side effects with Xolair are:
    • Muscle aches
    • Joint aches
    • Fatigue
    • Injection site reaction
    • Severe allergic reactions (rare)

Nucala® (mepolizumab)

  • Nucala is a medication for patients with eosinophilic asthma. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell that can cause inflammation in the lungs of some patients with asthma. Nucala works by reducing the number of eosinophils in your blood.
  • Nucala is administered as a shot under the skin once every 4 weeks.
  • After you receive a dose of medication, most infusion centers will monitor you for a period of time to make sure you do not have any reactions to the medication.
  • The most common side effects with Nucala are:
    • Headaches
    • Injection site reaction
    • Back pain
    • Weakness
    • Fatigue
    • Severe allergic reactions (rare)

Cinqair® (reslizumab)

  • Cinqair is also a medication for patients with eosinophilic asthma. It also works by reducing the number of eosinophils in your blood.
  • Cinqair is administered as an intravenous (IV, or through the vein) infusion. It takes about 20 to 50 minutes to receive the infusion. It is given once every 4 weeks.
  • After you receive a dose of medication, most infusion centers will monitor you for a period of time to make sure you do not have any reactions to the medication.
  • The most common side effects with Cinqair are:
    • Sore throat
    • Muscle aches
    • Severe allergic reactions (rare)

Fasenra® (benralizumab)

  • Fasenra is a medication for patients with eosinophilic asthma and works by reducing the number of eosinophils in your blood.
  • Fasenra is administered as a shot under the skin.
  • It is given once every 4 weeks for the first 3 doses, then once every 8 weeks.
  • After you receive a dose of medication, most infusion centers will monitor you for a period of time to make sure you do not have any reactions to the medication.
  • The most common side effects with Fasenra are:
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • Severe allergic reactions (rare)

Dupixent® (dupilumab)

  • Dupixent is also a medication for patients with poorly controlled eosinophilic asthma and works by blocking a number of inflammatory cells that affect patients with asthma
  • Dupixent is administered as a shot under the skin.
  • It is given once every other week.
  • You will receive the first three doses of Dupixent in clinic so that we can teach you how to inject it. You will be monitored for one hour after the first dose to make sure you do not have a reaction to the medication. You will be monitored for 30 minutes after the next two doses. After that, Dupixent can be administered at home by yourself.
  • The most common side effects with Dupixent are:

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