If you, or someone you know, suffer from allergic asthma, a chronic inflammatory disorder of the lungs, you know the frightening asthma attacks and constant use of inhaled steroids can severely impact your quality of life. Sometimes standard treatments simply aren’t enough to adequately control allergic asthma and, for qualifying patients, doctors may prescribe a relatively new and sometimes hard to find treatment called omalizumab, more commonly known by its brand name Xolair®.
“If I see that the [allergic asthma] patient isn’t getting better, has frequent trips to the ER, and their quality of life hasn’t improved under their current treatment regimen, then I would consider Xolair® as a potential treatment option,” said Dr. Darshana Alle, an allergist with Allergy and Asthma Care Centers who has been prescribing Xolair® injections for about three years. “It’s an injectable for people 12 years and older to manage severe asthma for patients whose asthma is not controlled by inhaled steroids.”
Xolair® (omalizumab) was the first approved biological therapy – made from human antibodies – to treat moderate to severe allergic asthma caused by year-round airborne allergens like dust, pet dander and mold. Injections can be given every two to four weeks just beneath the skin of the upper arm and must be administered in a doctor’s office. While Xolair® can be used in conjunction with other asthma treatments, it takes a completely different approach to controlling the disorder. Xolair® changes how the immune system reacts to asthma related allergens by blocking the natural substance in the body that causes the allergic asthma symptoms. Still, Xolair® is not a rescue medication it shouldn’t be used to treat sudden asthma attacks.
Are You a Good Candidate for Xolair®?
Xolair® isn’t right for every allergic asthma patient, but there are easy ways to find out if you are a good candidate for the treatment. The manufacturer suggests first taking a brief five question health survey called The Asthma Control Test™ (ACT™) to determine if your asthma is under control. The test may help patients prepare for a thorough discussion with their allergy and asthma specialist.
An appropriate allergic evaluation by a doctor is necessary before Xolair® can be prescribed and can include skin or blood tests to determine if a patient has allergic asthma. “You have to prove that the patient has severe asthma and that it has been futile to treat them with the current standard of care which can include inhaled corticosteroids,” said Dr. Alle who encourages patients to understand the risks associated with Xolair® injections, including anaphylaxis, a serious and life-threatening allergic reaction.
How to Make Xolair an Affordable Option
Although Xolair® (omalizumab) won US Food and Drug Administration approval in 2003, access to the injections hasn’t always been easy. Insurance companies have been slow to embrace the treatment and coverage concerns have some doctors refusing to offer Xolair®. One of the few allergy practices in the area to carry Xolair is Allergy and Asthma Care Centers, which not only carries and prescribes injections but also works as a liaison between the manufacturer and the patient to bring the cost down and get patients the affordable asthma care they need.
“I would recommend making an appointment and seeing if you are a good candidate for Xolair®,” said. Dr. Alle. “There are options to make it more financially accessible. Our office can work with Xolair® to make that happen.”
Dr. Darshana Alle is an allergist at Allergy and Asthma Care Centers. She enjoys working with a diverse group of patients and treats both pediatric and adult patients with allergic conditions ranging from allergic rhinitis, asthma, urticaria, angioedema, and atopic dermatitis. She strongly believes in teaching her patients the significance of their conditions and how best to diagnose and manage them. To request an appointment with Dr. Alle or any of the physicians at Allergy and Asthma Care Centers click here.