What is Xolair?
Xolair (omalizumab) is a prescription medication designed to treat moderate to severe asthma. IgE is a substance that occurs naturally in the body in small amounts. When people with allergic asthma breathe in allergens, such as cat, dust-mite or pollen, their bodies make more IgE. This increase in IgE can lead to increased symptoms, including an asthma attack. Xolair works by helping to block IgE from triggering an allergic reaction.
Who should be considered for Xolair?
Those that are 12 years and older
Those that have frequent asthma symptoms, despite treatment with inhaled steroids. Those that are needing rescue inhalers (such as Albuterol) on a regular basis and those that are waking up with chest symptoms during the night.
The Xolair patient should have a positive skin test to a significant allergen such as pollen, cat or dust.
What can one expect from Xolair?
In clinical studies, many patients on Xolair reported a decrease in asthma symptoms. Many patients were eventually able to reduce the amount of medications (including inhaled steroids) they were taking. As a result of improved asthma control, some patients were able to increase their level of activity.
At this time, treatment with Xolair should be continuous. Initial dosage is determined by serum IgE levels (via a blood test) and your weight. The dose may be changed if there are significant fluctuations in weight.
What are possible side effects of Xolair?
The most common side effect associated with Xolair is an injection-site reaction. Xolair is administered via a subcutaneous injection, usually in the arm. Other possible reactions, although less common, include viral infections, headache and anaphylaxis. Patients receiving Xolair are kept in the office for at least thirty minutes and are observed closely for any adverse reactions. To monitor lung function and look for evidence of acute bronchospasm, a spirometry is typically done before and after each administration of Xolair.
The incidence of cancer occurred in 0.5% of patients receiving Xolair versus 0.2% of patients receiving placebo injections. This is not statistically significant and the type of cancers reported were age-specific and not thought to be related to receiving treatment with Xolair.