New drug goes after major cause of asthma — eosinophils
Maybe you’ve seen the ads on TV lately for Fasenra, also known as Benralizumab, a new monoclonal antibody to help treat asthma. Fasenra blocks the proliferation of asthma-causing bad guys called eosinophils. The decreasing of these white blood cells helps prevent asthmatic inflammation.
The new Fasenra antibody is “selective for interleukin-5 (IL-5),” counteracting this chemical mediator that causes the proliferation of eosinophils — the major cause of asthma.
It is indicated for severe asthmatics 12 years old or older. Clinical trials have resulted in marked improvement in asthma control and in reduction of asthma exacerbations. It is administered as an injection in the arm, thigh or abdomen, and is given every four weeks for the first three doses; then every eight weeks.
Two other monoclonal drugs that also target IL-5 are Nucala and Cinqair. Nucala is also given by injection but every four weeks. Cinqair is given intravenously every four weeks. No head-to-head trials have been conducted comparing these three medicines. Nucala and Cinqair are given more often than Fasenra, but Fasenra is twice as expensive, so all three cost about the same.