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A new treatment has been launched in Australia to help adults and teenagers with severe asthma manage their poorly-controlled symptoms.
One in nine Australians have asthma and up to 10 percent of patients are living with severe disease.
The injection, called Fasenra (benralizumab), is given to sufferers whose inflammation in their airways is triggered by a high number of white blood cells called eosinophils.
The antibody is the third in a class of new biological agents to be registered in Australia for severe asthma.It is the “biggest development in asthma treatment for decades”.A new injection might offer asthma sufferers new hope.
Respiratory physician Dr Gregory Katsoulotos says the medicines are the biggest development in asthma treatment in decades.
“Previously, people lived in fear of another attack, going to hospital, of not being well,” he said.
“They’re now travelling the world.”
The new add-on injectable therapy is given every two months, after starting out on monthly jabs.
“You are choosing these populations who are miserable, who are suffering on steroids, and more than half them are responding in terms of significant improvement of their symptoms,” Dr Katsoulotos said.
“Reduction of their prednisone dose or even, in cases, stopping their prednisone completely. Stopping attacks, stopping presentations to hospital.”
The most common side-effects include headache, sore throat and a high temperature.
Unlike other biological agents Nucala (mepolizumab) and Xolair (omalizumab), Fasenra is not included on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, although a submission has been made.The injection, Fasenra, is given to sufferers whose inflammation in their airways is triggered by a high number of eosinophils white blood cells.
Dr Katsoulotos says a special pharmaceutical program allows the medicine to be available free of charge for up to 12 months.
The National Asthma Council welcomes the new treatment option.
“The day-to-day burden of living with severe asthma can be considerable, including living with side-effects from frequent corticosteroid use,” council CEO Siobhan Brophy said.
“Novel treatment options provide hope for improving the lives of those affected.”
Asthma Australia says it’s important for people with asthma to recognise when their symptoms aren’t getting any better.
“When left untreated, severe asthma can heavily impact a person’s quality of life,” Asthma Austrlaia CEO Michele Goldman said.
Severe asthma patient Barbara, aged 77, says she can’t walk more than 10 metres without struggling to breathe.
“Even my puffers do not work at the time,” she said.
“My husband has to hang the clothes on the line now because just reaching up, by the time I do that, I can’t breathe.”
People with asthma can find more information on the condition here.
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2018