Xolair is a relatively new medicine for the treatment of moderate to severe asthma. Xolair has an interesting method of action in that it is an antibody that is injected into the body and blocks the patient’s allergic antibody (Immunoglobulin E, or IgE). When IgE is blocked allergic reactions and asthma attacks are significantly reduced. If a patient’s asthma is triggered by allergies then Xolair can be extremely effective in preventing asthma symptoms and exacerbations. Note that asthma can also be triggered by other things such as infections, irritants, stress and exercise. While Xolair does not block these triggers it can still have a major impact a since the patient’s lungs will be less sensitive overall.
In order to qualify for Xolair, the patient must have asthma that is not well controlled on current standard therapy like a daily inhaled steroid. The patient must be allergic to a year-round trigger such as dust mites, pets, cockroaches or molds. They must also have evidence of an elevated IgE which is checked by a blood test. The Xolair shot is given either once or twice a month and must be done in the doctor’s office. Xolair is an expensive medication but is usually well covered if the patient meets all the necessary criteria.
Xolair was initially approved for the treatment of allergic asthma but, several years ago, patients with hives (urticaria) noticed that their hives would disappear when they received their Xolair shot. As a results the medication was investigated for the treatment of hives and, in April 2014, it was approved by the FDA for this purpose.
For a very long time, effective treatments did not exits for patients who suffered from hives. Antihistamines are useful for mild cases but many patients found that these did not provide enough relief from daily itching and welts. Some very strong medications have been tried in the past but with only mild benefit and strong side effects.
The emergence of Xolair has been a life changer for many of our patients. While hives are not usually dangerous they are extremely distressing due to constant itching and unattractive welts. Patients with hives have more social problems, anxiety and depression, poor sleep and other problems due to this difficult condition.
Xolair is given as a once a month injection for hives and, although it is expensive, it is usually covered very well by a combination of insurance and payment assistance programs.
If you have chronic hives and had given up on finding a solution ask about Xolair today!