Some biologics, which are medications that target specific parts of the immune system to affect biological changes and improve symptoms of certain diseases, have been on the market for over a decade. Xolair, for instance, has been used for over 15 years in the treatment of severe asthma cases by decreasing asthma flares and improving lung function. Also used to treat chronic hives, Xolair significantly decreases the severity itching and number of flare-ups. When other treatments have been tried (and failed), approaching your treatment from a more personalized medicine standpoint can be more effective. This is where biologics can help.
It could be due to Xolair’s high success rate that recent developments in medical research have provided new biologics relief for asthma patients in the form of two new biologics, Nucala and Cinqair. For sufferers of eczema, there’s a new Dupixent treatment that helps adult patients with moderate to severe symptoms, often resulting in clearing skin with dramatic effect. In the era of personalized medicine, biologics are becoming more targeted so that relief is possible for even the most extreme cases.
Read our interview with Dr. Fogg to learn more about how biologics are changing the future of allergy treatments, and schedule a consultation with Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM to find out if biologics could be the right treatment for you.
Dr. Fogg, can you run us through the process for a patient considering biologics?
Once we determine that a patient is a right candidate, they will come in for an office visit. The biologic would be administered and we would monitor them for a half an hour. Depending on the patient and the biologic, the administration would be every two to four weeks, at home or in the office.
Would you advise patients to try other treatments first?
In general, the treatment paradigm for all three diseases [asthma, hives and eczema] is that you would try conventional medications first. If they were not successful, then biologics would be the next step. Biologics may be used — and often are — in conjunction with the other treatments; they’re not only used exclusively.
What is the success rate and how quickly do they work?
For the vast majority of patients who are well selected for biologic therapy, we see really dramatic life-altering improvements. The results can happen very quickly, within the first few months of therapy if not sooner. It’s really amazing.
You mentioned biologics can be “life-altering” for some patients. Why?
For a small percentage of patients with these three particular diseases, the standard medical therapies just aren’t effective. A lot of times, when you start them on a biologic agent, those exacerbations are reduced by 50 percent or more. When selected for the appropriate patients, they can dramatically improve the quality of the patient’s life while at the same time reducing the need for more toxic medicines.
What does the future of biologics look like?
What I think is so revolutionary about biologics and allergic disease is that now, with the availability, we’re really targeting therapies to specific patient populations so it’s really the beginning of the revolution of molecular medicine and allergic disease.
As biologic treatments continue to evolve, Dr. Matthew Fogg of Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM is hopeful for the future of his patients. “What is so revolutionary about these biologics and allergic disease is that in the past, we had very few treatment options,” he says of sufferers of asthma, hives and eczema who did not find relief through traditional means. “Now we’re entering a new world of molecular medicine and we’re targeting therapies to specific patients, rather than treating all patients with a limited set of medications. That’s really exciting.”
To see if biologics are right for you, schedule an appointment today online at AllergyandAsthmaWellness.com or by calling 1-800-86COUGH.