Background Seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) induced by Japanese cedar pollens is a major problem in Japan. Omalizumab, a humanized monoclonal anti-IgE antibody, improves symptoms associated with SAR, but a comparative study with an anti-allergy drug has not yet been conducted.
Objective To compare the efficacy and safety of omalizumab with suplatast tosilate, a selective T-helper type 2 (Th2) cytokine inhibitor, in patients with Japanese cedar pollen-induced SAR.
Methods A randomized, double-blind, double-dummy study was conducted in 308 Japanese patients with a history of moderate-to-severe SAR who showed a CAP-RAST value (2+) specifically to Japanese cedar pollens. Patients were treated for 12 weeks with omalizumab plus placebo of suplatast tosilate or suplatast tosilate plus placebo of omalizumab.
Results The mean daily nasal symptom medication scores (sum of the daily nasal symptom severity score and daily nasal rescue medication score) were significantly lower in the omalizumab group than in the suplatast tosilate group during three evaluation periods (P<0.001). The omalizumab group also had significantly lower mean daily nasal severity scores, each of the mean daily nasal and ocular symptom severity scores (sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, itchy nose, itchy eyes, watery eyes, and red eyes). Omalizumab reduced rescue medication requirements, and the proportion of days with any rescue medication use in the omalizumab group was significantly lower. Serum-free IgE levels markedly decreased in the omalizumab group and it was associated with clinical efficacy. The adverse reaction profiles were similar between the two groups. The overall incidence of injection site reactions was higher in the omalizumab group than in the suplatast tosilate group, but all these events were of mild degree. No anti-omalizumab antibodies were detected.
Conclusion Omalizumab showed significantly greater improvements than suplatast tosilate in the treatment of SAR induced by Japanese cedar pollens.