Severe asthma may be tackled with new biologic drug

By: Mohan Garikiparithi | Health News | Wednesday, September 07, 2016 - 10:30 AM

severe asthma drug benralizumabA new biologic drug in an injectable form has shown to reduce flare-ups in severe cases of asthma that is not easily controlled by steroid inhalers. The results come from two new clinical trials.

The drug benralizumab is a biologic that kills white blood cells known as eosinophils. This type of white blood cells has been found to be present in large numbers in asthma patients and has been associated with asthma severity.

If approved by the FDA, benralizumab would be another drug to add to the line of treatments for severe asthma.

Study author Dr. J. Mark FitzGerald said, “We can offer patients who frequently require courses of oral corticosteroids and have a certain level of eosinophils [an allergy-related cell easily measured in the blood] a very effective treatment. With the right patient with the right characteristics, we can significantly modify the level of asthma severity.”

“The treatments that we have now are done every two weeks or once a month, but benralizumab can be given every two months, which may lower the cost,” Dr. FitzGerald added.

The most common side effects of the new drug include worsening asthma and cold-like symptoms.

“These biologicals treat patients that were previously untreatable, and these treatments are getting better and better,” concluded Dr. Alan Mensch, chief of pulmonary medicine at Northwell Health’s Plainview Hospital.

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