Biologics for the Management of Asthma
Asthma is commonly controlled or managed by identifying and suppressing the trigger using inhaled or oral medication. Some patients don’t get any relief from such medications and controlling the triggers becomes a big challenge. Recently, several new medications referred to as “biologics” are utilized in the treatment of moderate and severe asthma. Biologics management is an excellent way to target specific antibodies or cells involved in asthma and is also known as precision or personalized therapy.
What is a biologic?
It is the medication acquired from living cells, like bacteria, and then modified to target particular molecules in the human body. When a person suffers from asthma the targets are inflammatory molecules, antibodies, and cell receptors. When the molecules are targeted, biologics ensure to block the path that leads to inflammation and thereby causes asthma symptoms.
The need for a biologic
When the standard daily oral controller medications fail to provide relief to asthma symptoms, biologics management is considered as the preferred treatment option. Poorly-controlled asthma showcases the following symptoms.
- Frequent wheezing
- Constant shortness of breath
- Frequent coughing
- Difficulty breathing while sleeping at night
When such symptoms show up, there is always the need for a fast-acting reliever medication several times a day. Moreover, the need for frequent hospitalization, emergency room visits, and need for exacerbations are required. Before recommending and prescribing a biologic, the doctor assures that the patient is seeking oral controller medications as instructed without any potential triggers for asthma. Furthermore, any other associated medical conditions shouldn’t be ignored, or else asthma becomes worse.
Presently, there are five approved biologics used for asthma. They are:
Several other types of biologics are under development and will be available soon.
Benefits of a biologic
Biologics have proved to be revolutionary for asthma patients. An asthma patient can benefit from biologics management in the following ways.
- The frequency of asthma exacerbations decreases;
- Lesser emergency room visits;
- Minimal hospitalizations;
- Reduction in asthma symptoms;
- Reduced need and use of oral steroids;
- Reduced medication dosage;
- Reduced missed workdays and school days.
Biologics have shown significant improvement in the quality of life for patients experiencing asthma. Furthermore, the medication has also shown immense improvement in the lung functioning of patients with severe asthma. Overall, biologics are beneficial for patients with moderate as well as severe asthma symptoms.
Are there any side effects?;
Several studies have shown that biologics are safe. However, omalizumab biologic often shows minor risks of anaphylaxis. In case, a patient shows such an effect, he/she will be prescribed an epinephrine autoinjector to avert the severe reactions. When mepolizumab biologic is prescribed, the doctor might ask about prior or present parasitic infections along with the status of varicella vaccination before administering the dose. Some other minor side effects include fatigue, headache, sore throat, soreness at the injection site, etc.
Biologics management has changed the way asthma is controlled and managed. This is especially beneficial for patients suffering from severe symptoms for several days. Since biologics are considered safe, more doctors and patients are considering incorporating them into their treatment plans.