People who struggle with severe asthma now have a new treatment to get some relief.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved an injectable drug called Tezspire (tezepelumab-ekko), which would be administered every four weeks by a health care professional.
The medication is considered an add-on treatment meant to improve severe asthma in a person whose condition isn’t controlled by their current medications. People who are prescribed Tezspire would continue to use other asthma treatments.
Tezspire is unique because it is not limited to a specific type of severe asthma. It only targets a type of molecule that is involved in airway inflammation.
“There are several monoclonal antibody treatments for asthma mediated by eosinophils,” explained Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “Tezspire attacks a different molecule, so acts on a different pathway. It may have utility in a wide variety of asthmatics.”
The FDA approved the drug after two clinical trials demonstrated that it was both safe and effective. Participants in the trials received either the drug or the placebo every four weeks for a year.
Those who used the drug had fewer asthma attacks, including fewer attacks that led to emergency room visits and/or hospitalization.
Patients who start using Tezspire should not discontinue their inhaled or systemic corticosteroid asthma treatments abruptly. Any reductions should be gradual and under the direct supervision of a health care professional, the FDA said.
Those who have preexisting helminth infections (parasitic worm diseases) should be treated before starting Tezspire. People who start taking Tezspire should not have live vaccines, which include MMR, smallpox and rotavirus vaccines. The drug should also not be used to treat short-term asthma symptoms or attacks.
About 5% to 10% of Americans with asthma have severe asthma, which is an inflammatory disease that affects the lungs’ airways. Asthma causes the airways to become swollen or inflamed by certain triggers, including allergens or irritants and viral infections.
It can cause asthma attacks that make it hard to breathe and include wheezing, cough and chest tightness. Severe attacks can be intense and long-lasting. The symptoms of severe asthma typically do not get better with short-term treatments.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on asthma.
SOURCE: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, news release, Dec. 20, 2021