Difficult to control asthma

6) Antibody treatment – Omalizumab

A doctor giving a young man an injection in the upper arm.

© Crown copyright 2014

Omalizumab is an Anti IgE monoclonal antibody. It is licensed for use only in adults and children over 6 yrs. It may be considered as therapy only if you:

  • Have impaired lung function.
  • Have frequent asthma attacks and are symptomatic.
  • Are taking high-dose steroid inhalers and Long-acting beta receptor antagonists which last for up to 12 hours.
  • Have an allergy as an important cause of your asthma.

Omalizumab treatment should only be started in specialist centres with experience of monitoring and managing treatment of people with severe and difficult asthma.

If you are being treated with omalizumab and have any of the following conditions make sure the specialist is aware of them:

  • Kidney or liver problems.
  • Autoimmune disease – disorders where your own immune system attacks part of your body.
  • Recent treatment for an infection by a parasite.

Common side effects include:

  • Fever, difficulty breathing, swelling or feeling faint.
  • Joint pain with or without swelling or stiffness, rash, fever, swollen lymph nodes, muscle pain.
  • Reactions at the site of the injection (pain, swelling, itching and redness).
  • Pain in the upper part of the stomach.
  • Headache.

Self management

These side effects can usually be managed with other treatments – seek medical advice on how. Sometimes you have to discuss living with a side effect with the risk of difficult to control asthma with your healthcare professionals.