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Starting Specific Biologics Linked With Greater Asthma Burden

May 23, 2019

Patients initiating mepolizumab for asthma appear to have a greater disease burden compared with patients initiating omalizumab, according to a study recently published in Allergy and Asthma Proceedings.

“Real-world data on the characteristics and burden of disease among patients with asthma before receiving asthma-specific biologics would improve the understanding of the use of these therapies in a clinical setting,” researchers wrote. “Currently, limited data are available on the use of mepolizumab and omalizumab for the treatment of asthma.”

Researchers evaluated data from a medical claims database for 188 patients prescribed mepolizumab and 901 prescribed omalizumab.

Patients who received mepolizumab were older, had higher blood eosinophil counts, and more inhaled corticosteroid and systemic corticosteroid use the year before initiating the biologic compared with patients prescribed omalizumab, according to the study. Patients in the mepolizumab cohort had an average 2.9 exacerbations the year before initiating biologic treatment compared with 2 exacerbations for those in the omalizumab cohort.

Although overall asthma-related health care resource utilization and costs were similar for both cohorts, patients prescribed mepolizumab had more pharmacy fills (20.8 vs 16.9 fills), higher pharmacy costs ($4504 vs $3102), and lower clinic costs ($1816 vs $2709) compared with patients prescribed omalizumab, researchers reported.

Jolynn Tumolo


Ortega H, Hahn B, Tran JN, Bell C, Shams SA, Llanos JP. Disease burden in patients with asthma before initiating biologics: a retrospective cohort database study. Allergy and Asthma Proceedings. 2019;40(3):146-153.

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