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Patients may benefit from adding omalizumab (Xolair) to their asthma treatment if they have persistent asthma that is not being controlled. For the study, 419 patients with acute asthma were randomly given omalizumab or placebo for 28 weeks. All of the participants were taking high doses of inhaled corticosteroids plus long-acting beta2 agonists, and two thirds were also receiving controller medications, including 22% who were taking oral corticosteroids.
Reporting the findings during the recent annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the researchers found that omalizumab was linked with a 26% reduction in the rate of clinically significant asthma exacerbations, compared with placebo. Furthermore, the medication considerably lowered the occurrence of severe asthma attacks and emergency room visits. Lead researcher Phillip Korenblat, MD, said omalizumab led to "meaningful improvement"in asthmarelated quality of life. Omalizumab "should be considered in this group of patients with severe persistent asthma who continue to have unmet needs despite the best available therapy,"he added.