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'Xolair’s reimbursement will change treatment paradigm for asthma patients'
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2020.07.09 18:11
  • Updated 2020.07.09 18:11
  • comments 0

Novartis Korea will be able to strengthen its position in the severe allergic asthma market with Xolair (ingredient: omalizumab), which has recently received insurance benefits, the company said Thursday.

Professor Kim Tae-bum at Asan Medical Center explains Xolair's reimbursement for severe asthma patients in Korea, during a news conference at the InterContinental Seoul, on Thursday.

Xolair is the first biological product to treat severe asthma, targeting immunoglobulin E (IgE).

To be benefitted from the new insurance coverage will be adolescents over 12 and adults whose symptoms were not controlled even with high doses of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) and long-acting beta-agonists (LABA) and long-acting muscarinic antagonists (LAMA).

Pediatric patients ages 6-12 who failed to control their symptoms despite administering high doses of ICS and long-acting beta-agonists (LABA) will also benefit from the newly applied reimbursement.

Asthma is a respiratory disease characterized by chronic airway inflammation, reversible airflow limitation, wheezing, difficulty breathing and coughing. Severe asthma causes asthma attacks. If left uncontrolled, it can cause dyspnea, loss of consciousness, and death.

In Korea, about 3.6 to 10 percent of asthma patients suffer from severe symptoms. Such patients have to visit the emergency room frequently and be hospitalized. Severe asthma patients did not respond well to standard asthma therapy, including high-dose inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) treatment.

Xolair recently emerged as the treatment that could resolve the issue. Still, patients had difficulty using the drug due to the high price of the drug without reimbursement.

"In the past, due to the high price of the drug without reimbursement, physicians often had to prescribe ICS treatment even though Xolair was a better option for the patient," Professor Kim Tae-bum at Asan Medical Center said in a news conference. "However, ICS treatment had side effects such as weight gain, diabetes, and osteoporosis."

Because of these reasons, the asthma-related mortality rate in Korea is about five times that of Japan, Kim said citing statistics.

"One of the main reasons behind such a high fatality is the amount of Xolair used in each country," Kim said. "The use of Xolair in Japan is very high. When comparing Xolair's use status between Korea and Japan, it can be indirectly confirmed that the accessibility of the drug to Korean patients was limited."

Kim stressed the reimbursement of Xolair could reduce the use of ICS treatment.

"Notably, this drug's advantage is that it has been tested for efficacy and adverse reactions through clinical studies for a long time," Kim said. "There are still a few serious asthma patients whose symptoms persist despite inhalation and steroid treatment."

Therefore, Xolair is a final-stage remedy for patients with severe allergic asthma who cannot lead a healthy life, he added.


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