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Understanding Asthma Medications (cont.)

Monoclonal Antibodies

Omalizumab (Xolair) is the newest asthma medication. It may be considered for individuals with persistent, moderate to severe asthma due to seasonal allergies that is not controlled by inhaled corticosteroids. The cost of omalizumab is estimated at $12,000-$15,000 per year.

How monoclonal antibodies work

Monoclonal antibodies bind to human immunoglobulin E (IgE) on the surface of mast cells and basophils (cells that release chemicals that cause allergic symptoms). By binding to IgE, omalizumab reduces the release of the allergy-inciting chemicals.

Who should not use these medications

Individuals who are allergic to omalizumab or its contents should not use it.


Adults and children older than 12 years of age are given an injection every two to four weeks. The dose depends on the body's IgE levels.

Drug or food interactions

Drug interactions have not been reported.

Side effects

Omalizumab is not effective in treating acute asthma attacks. Inhaled corticosteroids should not be suddenly stopped when initiating omalizumab. Swelling or pain at the area of injection may be experienced.

For More Information

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

American Lung Association

Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America

Asthma Society of Canada

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Center for Environmental Health

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Medically reviewed by James E Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/15/2014

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