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1st of 3 parts reviewing a new treatment for severe Asthma - Biologic Therapy drugs

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Biologics for severe Asthma

New Asthma Treatment

Part 1


Biologics are a new class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies licenced for severe asthma. They reduce the inflammation in the respiratory tract. Only respiratory specialists can prescribe biologics.  

Most biologics are given by subcutaneous injection once or twice a month. All biologics are an add-on option and do not replace existing reliever and preventer medication, but patients should eventually be able to reduce the dosage of existing therapies such as inhaled corticosteroids. Biologics are available to target the two subtypes of Type-2 Severe Asthma (i.e.) allergic (IgE-mediated) asthma and eosinophilic asthma

Biologic therapy drugs for severe asthma include:

  • Omalizumab (Xolair®)
  • Mepolizumab (Nucala®)
  • Reslizumab (Cinqair®)
  • Benralizumab (Fasenra®)
  • Dupilumab (Dupixent®)


Of the 5 biologics listed above, Omalizumab is an anti-IgE agent, and the other 4 biologics are anti eosinophilic agents.

Biologics, are expensive (average €15,000 per year), require frequent monitoring and limited to specific clinical phenotypes. The benefits of reduced exacerbations of asthma, reduced steroid burden, and decreased hospitalisations means health authorities are increasingly funding their use. More research is required to better identify appropriate patients for use for the right patients at the appropriate time.

In clinical trials, all 5 biologics reduced annualised exacerbation rates by at least 50% and they all improved asthma symptom scores, lung function and quality of life and allowed reductions in maintenance oral corticosteroids while maintaining a favourable safety profile.

Side effects

Biologics used for asthma have a good safety profile. The most serious potential side effect of biologic therapies is an allergic or allergic-like reaction with some patients very rarely experiencing severe anaphylaxis.


Less severe but more common side effects of biologics include:

  • Headache
  • Pain, redness, itching, and/or a burning sensation at the injection site
  • Increased risk of infections such as colds, flu, and urinary tract infections


Convenient Flu Vaccination Service at Whelehans

Whelehans offer flu vaccine at our Pearse St and Clonmore store most days for adults and children. You can book online on the Whelehans Pharmacy website or ring either pharmacy. Flu vaccine is €25 (€20 if you book online) or free with medical or doctor visit card. It is free for older people, children and people with long term conditions and healthcare workers.


Covid 19 Vaccine Clinic

Whelehans offer a weekly COVID-19 Walk in clinic at Whelehans Pearse St for Covid-19 boosters. Contact Whelehans Pearse St at 0449334591 or check Whelehans website or social media for more information


To be continued…next week


For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore) or


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