What Is Omalizumab Used For?
Omalizumab is used for treating allergic asthma in adults and children as young as 12 years old. The drug works by blocking the action of a certain antibody that can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks. It is also approved to treat chronic idiopathic hives. Occasionally, omalizumab is prescribed for something other than allergic asthma. Among these potential "off-label" omalizumab uses are the prevention of severe food allergies or other types of allergies (such as seasonal allergies).
What Is Omalizumab Used For?Omalizumab (Xolair®) is a prescription medication that is used for treating allergic asthma. It is also approved to treat chronic idiopathic urticaria. It is part of a class of medications known as monoclonal antibodies.
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your airways, which are the tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs. When you have asthma, the inside walls of your airways are inflamed (swollen). This inflammation makes the airways very sensitive, and they tend to react strongly to things that you are allergic to or find irritating (see Asthma Triggers). When the airways react, they narrow and reduce the airflow to your lungs. This is called bronchospasm. It causes asthma symptoms, such as wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), coughing, tightness in the chest, and trouble breathing.
While there is no asthma cure, asthma can be controlled. There are many different asthma treatments, including fast-acting "rescue medications" for treating an asthma attack and longer-acting "controller medications" used to prevent asthma attacks. Omalizumab is a controller medication, used to help prevent asthma attacks (but not to treat an attack). Everyone who takes omalizumab should also have a rescue medication (such as an albuterol inhaler) available for emergencies.
Omalizumab is approved for use in people whose allergic asthma is not adequately controlled by inhaled corticosteroids. Allergic asthma is asthma that is associated with an allergen (a substance that causes allergic reactions, such as pollen, dust mites, or grass) and is confirmed by a skin or blood test.
(Click Asthma Treatment to learn more about treating asthma.)