Dupilumab: What is the new 'wonder drug' for severe asthma, what are the side effects and who is eligible?

A NEW drug to treat severe asthma has been approved for use in England.

Monday, 18th October 2021, 2:31 pm

Dupilumab has been hailed as a major breakthrough in the treatment for sever and uncontrolled asthma and has now been approved for use by the NHS in England.

It has been recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for patients who may not respond to usual asthma treatments.

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The new drug could help those with severe asthma. Picture: Clive Gee/ PA

Here is everything you need to know about the new 'wonder drug' Dupilumab.

What is Dupilumab?

Dupilumab is a monoclonal antibody which is from the family of drugs that is currently being used to treat Covid-19.

The antibody is also prescribed for severe eczema and rhinosinusitis.

Dupilumab was approved for use in Scotland in April but England has only just followed suit.

Who is eligible for Dupilumab?

Patients who have severe asthma with type 2 inflammation (with a defined pattern of immune response), those who meet an inflammation threshold, those who are ineligible for other treatments and those who have had at least four severe asthma attacks in the last year are eligible for the prescription.

What are the side effects?

Over 200,000 people in the UK suffer from regular asthma attacks and need to seek medical treatment on a regular basis.

Dupilumab is known to cause a few side effects which include inflammation, headaches and more rarely severe allergic reactions.

In clinical trials, Dupilumab has reduced the amount of asthma attacks for trialled individuals and the amount of emergency steroid tablets that are used in a severe asthma attack have been halved when combined with standard inhalers as well as the prescription.

However, the British Lung Foundation Partnership and Asthma UK have said that the current guidelines from NICE were “not clear” about when those who suffer with severe asthma should be referred.

This means that those who are most at risk may not be getting the treatments they need.

Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation director of research and innovation Dr Samantha Walker told Sky News: ‘Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation is calling for NICE to develop new, clear guidelines so healthcare professionals are confident about when to refer patients with possible severe asthma to get the specialist care they so desperately need.’

What to do if you are experiencing severe asthma symptoms

For those who are experiencing severe asthma symptoms, Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation have developed an online tracking tool to help keep an eye on uncontrolled symptoms.

This helps to work out whether you need to ask your doctor for extra help when it comes to attacks or whether you need a referral with specialist support.

It is always best to call 101 if you are experiencing health issues for a non-emergency circumstance or 999 should you need an ambulance.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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