Biologics In The Treatment of Asthma: Indications, Benefits, and Risks

biologics therapy for asthma 1

Asthma is defined as a long-term disease resulting in swelling, inflammation, and constriction of the upper and/or lower airways making it increasingly difficult for a person to breathe. This condition, often caused by certain foods, exercise, and allergens such as pet dander or dust can be potentially fatal due to the narrowing of the airway passages. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, asthma is one of the most common medical conditions affecting 1 in 13 Americans (approximately 25 million).

What are biologics as it pertains to asthma?

Biologics target certain molecules within the human body and is often used in the treatment of allergic diseases in patients that controller medications are not enough.

In a patient suffering severe asthma symptoms without relief, biologics target cell receptors, inflammatory molecules, and antibodies associated with the allergic disease. Biologics and asthma treatment are proven effective as they disrupt the pathways leading to inflammation to prevent symptoms of an attack before it begins.

 

Indications of biologics as it pertains to asthma

A person living with an allergic disease, such as asthma, is prescribed medications to be taken daily to reduce the risk of an attack as well as rescue medications to minimize life-threatening symptoms. People who experience frequent asthma attacks or symptoms despite the appropriate use of controller medications are at an increased risk of serious complications.

Biologics are indicated in those experiencing chronic asthma symptoms, such as a persistent cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, or the frequent need to use rescue inhalers several times per week. Before starting biologics, your prescribing physician should check to ensure you are using controller medications appropriately.

 

Biologics vs rescue inhaler

Rescue inhalers are a type of bronchodilator used to relieve acute asthma symptoms and attacks. These medications are administered as soon as symptoms of an allergic reaction arise to minimize swelling in the airway. They are not considered a permanent solution and medical care should follow.

Unlike rescue medications, biologics do not treat acute asthma attacks. Biologics are prescribed by a medical professional to help prevent symptoms before they begin by targeting specific pathways leading to inflammation. These medications are not to be used alone but in addition to controller medication.

 

 


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Frequently asked questions

Below are common questions about biologics for the treatment of asthma. 

How are biologics administered?

Biologic medications are injectable medications administered through intravenous therapy or intramuscular injections. These medications are processed differently within the body than oral medications. Therefore, they are given less frequently. Dupixent, a common biologic used to treat asthma, is administered 1 to 2 times per month based upon your doctor’s recommendations.

How much do biologics cost?

The final cost of treatment with biologics is dependent upon several factors, including the type of treatment, the use of insurance, and whether or not the medication is considered preferred by your physician. Using your current prescription, this cost and coverage tool can provide an estimated cost of treatment.

Will my insurance cover the cost of biologics?

Many insurance companies cover a percentage of biologics treatment. However, you will be responsible for the remaining balance not covered by your insurance policy. The final price you must pay depends on your insurance company, plan coverage, and if your out-of-pocket deductible has been met.

What are the risks of biologics?

Whether over-the-counter or prescription, all medications carry one or more associated risks. Your physician will consider if biologic treatment benefits outweigh the risks in treating the underlying allergic disease that is causing your symptoms to become prevalent. Common side effects of biologics include:

  • Injection site pain, swelling, or itching
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Rash

Can I stop taking my daily medications if I receive biologics treatment?

Asthma treatment through biologics medications such as Dupixent is not a replacement for daily controller medications. Biologics are designed to be used alongside controller medications to reduce the risk of developing life-threatening symptoms. However, these medications are not designed as a sole treatment for allergic diseases.

Where can I be evaluated for biologics treatment?

Do you live with uncontrollable asthma symptoms despite the appropriate use of controller medications? Biologic treatment could be right for you! A licensed physician specializing in allergic diseases will begin by assessing the frequency of attacks you are experiencing as well as your current controller medication use.

Untreated or persistent allergy symptoms, whether seasonal or chronic, can alter many aspects of a person’s life including sleep patterns, increased infections, or a decrease in productivity at school or work. Our board-certified allergists and physician assistants work together to get to the root of your allergy problems through various testing, identify triggers, and determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

At Houston Ear, Nose, Throat, and Allergy, we understand the risk associated with persistent, uncontrollable asthma symptoms. Our practice has been serving the Houston community for more than 100 years, bringing relief to harmful symptoms and implementing an individualized treatment approach to improve your overall quality of life.

Houston ENT has many top-rated specialists, including Patricia Leonard, a board-certified physician who completed training in Galveston, Texas at The University of Texas Medical Branch specializing in Allergy and Immunology care. She has been providing care and treatment to people suffering from allergic diseases in the greater Houston area for nearly 20 years with patient care as a top priority. Dr. Patricia Leonard specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic skin disorders, nasal allergies, and asthma, as well as drug, food, and insect allergies.

Asthma is a serious, potentially fatal allergic disease that often affects a person throughout their lifetime. Because this condition may be triggered by many different things, treatment must be personalized to each patient. The staff at Houston Ear, Nose, Throat, and Allergy work alongside each other, with patient care as our number one priority, to determine the best possible treatment.

If you are living with persistent allergy symptoms such as cough, congestion, runny nose, watering and redness of the eyes, or dark circles under the eyes, schedule an appointment today to see how our licensed allergists can help you.

 

 

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