Omalizumab is a monoclonal antibody, (man – made protein similar to natural protein made by the body,) a modern medicine currently being used for treating severe persistent allergic IgE mediated asthma as an add-on therapy.
Over-production of a specific IgE antibody, following an exposure to the allergen may develop various allergic disorders such as allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, venom, food or drug allergies etc. Different international bodies working on allergies (e.g. the US Food and Drug Administration, FDA) have approved this medicine for the treatment of moderate to severe persistent allergic asthma.
According to the British guide lines (NICE) while other asthma medications are not adequate to control the asthma, or the patient is required to take continuous or intermittent (at least 4 courses in a year,) oral steroids, this drug is recommended as an option of treatment in patients aged 6 years or above.
Omalizumab binds with IgE antibodies in blood and neutralises (blocks) its action. Despite being very expensive, this treatment should be considered for the following reasons:
High rates of severe asthma mortaity, frequent hospital admissions, severe adverse effects on oral steroids, prolonged duration of treatment, miserable daily life of the patients and the anxiety of families and carers etc.
Some countries health administrations have approved this treatment regime. Southampton General Hospital in the United Kingdom is practicing Omalizumab subcutaneous injection to the patients of severe persistent allergic asthma and chronic spontaneous urticaria.
Omalizumab is available in subcutaneous injection form in different strengths. The dose is calculated with the level of serum concentration of IgE antibodies and the weight of the patient. Patients can be given one or more injections every 2 to 4 weeks. This is a very expensive medicine and not yet available in Bangladesh.