Medications

Xolair®   

This product is manufactured by Novartis using the ingredient omalizumab.

This product is taken via subcutaneous injection.

Why is it prescribed?

Omalizumab is used to decrease the incidence of asthma flare-ups and improve control of asthma symptoms in adults and children over 6 years of age with moderate to severe persistent asthma not well-controlled with inhaled corticosteroids.


Xolair® has been shown to significantly decrease the incidence of asthma flare-ups and improve control of asthma symptoms in people who:

  • are 6 years of age and above
  • have moderate to severe persistent asthma
  • have asthma that is triggered by year-round allergens in the air
  • continue to have asthma symptoms even though they are taking inhaled steroids (e.g. Flovent®)

Xolair® is supplied as a powder in a small glass vial and is to be stored in a refrigerator (2 to 8 degrees centigrade). Prior to injection your doctor or nurse will dissolve the medication in sterile water. Your doctor or nurse will give you Xolair® as an injection just under the skin. Upon mixing the medicine with the sterile water the solution becomes thick and therefore the injection may take 5 to 10 seconds to administer. Based on your dose, your doctor will also tell you if you need 1,2, or 3 injections per dose. If you need more than 1 injection per dose, each will be given in a different area of your body.

You will probably need to continue taking your current asthma medications during Xolair® treatment but after 16 weeks you may be able to reduce or stop your current asthma medications. Your doctor will discuss this with you. You should not reduce the dose of other asthma medications without first discussing this with your doctor, even if you are feeling better.

Xolair® is a maintenance or controlled asthma medication. You will receive it on a regular schedule. Continue receiving Xolair® injections even when you are feeling well.

Notify your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms of an allergy (e.g. rash, itching, and swelling of the tongue and throat).


Alternatives

See other products used in the treatment of •asthma •

The usual recommended dose is between 75 to 375 mg subcutaneously (injected under the skin) every 2 or 4 weeks.  Doses (mg) and dosing frequency are determined by serum total IgE level (IU/mL), measured before the start of treatment, and body weight (kg). 


Omalizumab blocks a substance called immunoglobulin E (IgE) which is produced by your body. If you have allergic asthma, your body makes more IgE when you breathe in an allergen that triggers your asthma. Omalizumab helps stop the allergic-inflammatory process in allergic asthma.


Along with its needed effects, omalizumab may cause some unwanted or undesirable effects. Often, people using omalizumab never experience any unwanted effects. The severity and duration of these effects are dependant on many factors including duration of therapy, dose, and individual response. Possible unwanted effects include:

  • injection-site reactions (bruising, redness, warmth, burning, stinging, or other discomfort around the injection site)
  • viral and respiratory tract infections
  • sinus infections
  • headache
  • sore throat

Less common:

  • pain
  • dizziness
  • hair loss

Rare but serious side effects - seek medical help if you experience:

  • Sudden severe allergic reaction (sudden signs of allergy such as rash, itching or hives on the skin, swelling of the face, lips, tongue or other parts of the body, fast heartbeat, dizziness and light headedness, shortness of breath, wheezing or trouble breathing)
  • bleeding or bruising more easily than normal
  • Pain, numbness or tingling in the arms and legs, lumps or raised patches in the skin, weakness and fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss 
  • Joint pain, stiffness, rash, fever, swollen/enlarged lymph nodes 

 

 

 

 

 


Omalizumab is not a rescue medication and should not be used to treat sudden asthma attacks.
It is not a substitute for the medicines you are already taking.
Adding omalizumab to treatment with inhaled steroids (e.g. fluticasone) has been shown to reduce the number of asthma attacks. It has not been proven to work in other allergic conditions.
Oral or inhaled corticosteroids (e.g. prednisone, fluticasone) should not be abruptly stopped upon starting omalizumab therapy.
Use is not recommended in the following situations:

  • allergy to omalizumab or any component of the formulation

Caution is recommended in the following situations:

  • diabetes
  • glucose-galactose malabsorption syndrome

Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding: At this time there is limited information on use in pregnant and breastfeeding women. Consult your doctor or pharmacist before using.

 


Page Last Updated: 05/10/2016