FDA Advisory Committee Recommends New Asthma Drug for Approval
The Pulmonary-Allergy Drugs Advisory Committee of the US Food and Drug Administration recently voted unanimously to recommend mepolizumab as a maintenance treatment for eosinophillic asthma. When severe, this form of asthma can be especially difficult to control, as it may resist treatment even when using high dose steroids. Patients suffering with this type of asthma currently have few viable treatment options and the options available to them are usually associated with devastating side effects such as, sleep and emotional problems, hypertension, thinning bones (osteoporosis) and weight gain. This drug works by blocking a chemical called interleukin-5. This chemical is vital to the survival of the eosinophils which contribute to the symptoms seen in patients with eosinophilic asthma. This treatment has been recommended for adults but there is currently not enough research to support efficacy and safety in children. It will be relatively easy to identify patients that could benefit from this treatment by using a simple blood test to measure the amount of eosinophils present in the blood. This blood test is available everywhere. This treatment should provide hope for the community of those that suffer from severe forms of asthma and the people who care for them. To date the drug appears to be safe and well tolerated and it’s given through an injection done once a month. We are hopeful that mepolizumab will soon finish the approval process and be available to patients within the next few months where it will have opportunity to impact many patients’ lives.