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Effectiveness of omalizumab in reducing corticosteroid burden in patients with moderate to severe persistent allergic asthma.

BACKGROUND: Asthma guidelines advocate maintaining asthma control while minimizing corticosteroid exposure.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the reduction in corticosteroid burden during long-term treatment and the corresponding impact of this reduction on asthma control, lung function, and inflammation in patients with moderate to severe allergic asthma.

METHODS: We conducted a pooled analysis (N = 1,071) of 2 similarly designed, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled omalizumab trials and their extension phases. Each study included a 16-week steroid-stable phase, a 12-week steroid-reduction phase, and a 24-week extension phase. Patients received subcutaneous omalizumab (minimum, 0.016 mg/kg/IU (IgE/mL) every 4 weeks) or placebo every 2 or 4 weeks. Outcomes included change from baseline in inhaled corticosteroid dose, number of oral corticosteroid bursts, and other clinical measures, including asthma exacerbations and change in asthma quality-of-life score (questionnaire), lung function, and eosinophil count.

RESULTS: The median reduction from baseline in inhaled corticosteroid dose (beclomethasone dipropionate equivalent dose) by the completion of the extension phase was greater for the omalizumab group than for the placebo group (-420.0 vs -252.0 μg/d; P < .001). During that time, omalizumab-treated patients required fewer oral corticosteroid bursts overall for treatment of acute exacerbations (mean, 0.2 vs 0.3; relative risk, 0.56; 95% confidence interval, 0.41 to 0.76; P < .001) and demonstrated greater improvements in measures of asthma control.

CONCLUSION: The addition of omalizumab to baseline therapy in patients 12 years or older with moderate to severe persistent allergic asthma resulted in a durable reduction in the overall steroid burden and improvement in other clinical measures of asthma control.

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