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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Omalizumab for the treatment of chronic spontaneous urticaria: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials

Imagine having an itch that you just couldn’t get rid of.  Worse yet, imagine that itch was accompanied by hives and localized swelling that can’t help but consume your attention.  That’s the reality for up to 1% of the world’s population, who have a disease called chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU, also called chronic idiopathic urticaria).  The good news is that 70% resolve within 5 years. The bad news is that the standard treatment, non-sedating anti-histamines, only works in 50% of CSU patients.  That’s where Zhao and colleagues step in, with their article in this month’s issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (J Allergy Clin Immunol 2016; 137(6): 1742-1750).

They examine the role of omalizumab, a medication that targets IgE, the human antibody which is central to the disease process of urticaria.  Omalizumab has been on the market for the treatment of urticaria since 2014.  Zhao and colleagues looked at 7 randomized controlled trials, with 1230 antihistamine- refractory CSU.  By metaanalysis, they assessed how effective and safe omalizumab is in the treatment of CSU. 

Their conclusion is that omalizumab has a safety profile comparable to placebo.  73% had an adverse effect with omalizumab, compared to 69% with placebo.  They also state that, at the dose of 300mg, omalizumab led to a complete response in 36% of patients.  Altogether, this suggests that omalizumab is a safe and effective treatment option for hard to treat chronic spontaneous urticaria.


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