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Keywords:

  • anti-IgE;
  • asthma;
  • exacerbation;
  • omalizumab;
  • quality of life;
  • rhinitis

Background:  Anti-IgE therapy could be particularly beneficial for patients with concomitant disease as it targets a common factor in both diseases. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of omalizumab in patients with concomitant moderate-to-severe asthma and persistent allergic rhinitis.

Methods:  This multicentre, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial evaluated the safety and efficacy of omalizumab. A total of 405 patients (12–74 years) with a stable treatment (≥ 400 μg budesonide Turbuhaler®) and ≥ 2 unscheduled medical visits for asthma during the past year or ≥ 3 during the past 2 years were enrolled. Patients received omalizumab (≥ 0.016 mg/kg/IgE [IU/ml] per 4 weeks) or placebo for 28 weeks.

Results:  Fewer patients treated with omalizumab experienced asthma exacerbations (20.6%) than placebo-treated patients (30.1%), P = 0.02. A clinically significant (≥ 1.0 point) improvement in both Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire and Rhinitis Quality of Life Questionnaire occurred in 57.7% of omalizumab patients compared with 40.6% of placebo patients (P < 0.001). Omalizumab reduced Wasserfallen symptom scores for asthma (P = 0.023), rhinitis (P < 0.001) and the composite asthma/rhinitis scores (P < 0.001) compared with placebo. Serious adverse events were observed in 1.4% of omalizumab-treated patients and 1.5% of placebo-treated patients.

Conclusion:  Omalizumab is well tolerated and effective in preventing asthma exacerbations and improving quality of life in patients with concomitant asthma and persistent allergic rhinitis.