WEDNESDAY, March 16 (HealthDay News) -- The injectable medication Xolair reduced asthma symptoms in inner city children with the respiratory condition, and almost eliminated seasonal peaks in asthma attacks, new research shows.
When added to standard asthma treatments, Xolair (omalizumab) decreased the amount of inhaled steroid needed to maintain asthma control, according to the study, which is published in the March 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Omalizumab improves asthma control on top of guidelines-based treatment," said study co-author Dr. William Busse, a professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine in Madison. "There was less need for other medications, a reduction of symptoms and reduction of the seasonal exacerbations of asthma. Omalizumab almost totally eliminated these attacks."
But, he added, it's too soon to make treatment recommendations based on these findings. "I think we have to be very cautious, given the limited aspect of our study. It's still a small study, with just 200 people in each group," he explained.
And, he noted, Xolair is an expensive medication, costing about $1,000 a month. Injection of the drug also requires a doctor visit.
Omalizumab targets the antibody immunoglobulin E (IgE), a substance that is responsible for allergic symptoms and many asthma exacerbations. It is given by injection, usually once every two to four weeks, according to Novartis, the drug manufacturer. Omalizumab is currently only approved for people over the age of 12.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently conducting a long-term safety review of omalizumab, because there have been reports of an increased risk of heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure and stroke in people taking the drug. Final results of this review aren't expected until 2012, and, in the meantime, the medicatio
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