Does omalizumab really benefit patients with severe asthma?, asks DTB

Omalizumab is an injectable treatment for people with severe, allergic asthma that is not controlled by standard therapies. But a lack of evidence to support use of the drug in this group of patients does not justify its high cost, says Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB) in its review this month.

Dr Ike Iheanacho, editor of DTB comments: “The annual cost of omalizumab ranges from around £3,000 to £20,000 excluding the cost of a healthcare professional preparing and giving the injections.

However, in the key published study that has assessed its effectiveness in patients with severe asthma, omalizumab provided, at best, only a marginal reduction in the rate of asthma exacerbations. There is simply not enough evidence to justify omalizumab’s hype as a wonder drug.”

DTB believes that omalizumab should only be used in the context of clinical trials that aim to provide information on its efficacy in preventing exacerbations, hospital admissions and oral corticosteroid use, as well as its cost-effectiveness.

Also in DTB this month:

When and how it is best to give combination therapy for early rheumatoid arthritis?

  • Around one per cent of adults in the UK have rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Early intervention can reduce long-term joint damage so, patients need to be seen early (preferably within 3 months of first being seen) by a rheumatologist for initiation of disease-modifying-anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
  • DTB looks at the use of DMARDs to assess whether they should be administered as sole therapy or in combination.  It also looks at when and how best to give combination therapy.

Contact Vicky Taylor on 0207 770 7567 / vicky.taylor@which.co.uk

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