Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Go-Ahead for Injections That Can 'Cure' Asthma

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Go-Ahead for Injections That Can 'Cure' Asthma

Article excerpt

Byline: SOPHIE GOODCHILD

DOCTORS were today given the green light to prescribe a life-saving jabthat can "cure" severe cases of asthma.

The health drugs watchdog, the National Institute for Health and ClinicalExcellence, has approved Xolair for use on the NHS.

Trials have shown the drug can halve the risks of asthma attacks and expertshave hailed it a "wonder treatment".

It is the first asthma injection that has been genetically engineered to blockthe allergic triggers responsible for attacks.

The new drug stops the body overreacting to inhaled particles including pollen,cat fur and house-dust mites.

The news comes as figures show some hospitals in London have among the highestadmission rates for asthma patients in the country.

City and Hackney admit about 140 people a yearmore than 40 per cent above the national average. But there are also hugevariations in the figures.

Kensington and Chelsea, for example, is more than 50 per cent below nationalrates.

There are around five million asthma sufferers in Britain and the cost to thehealth service is [pounds sterling]8 billion a year.

Attacks occur when the body detects a foreign body or allergen and overreactsby producing huge amounts of antibodies.

More than 1,400 peopleone every six hoursdie each year in Britain as a result of breathing difficulties and others endup in hospital.

About one in 10 patients has severe problems that require high doses ofpowerful steroids. But these are not always effective and can also lead toside-effects such as kidney damage and weight gain.

Inhalers and oral steroids also only suppress symptoms and do not treat thecauses of the disease. Trials of Xolair, which also combats severe hay fever,have shown it cuts the risk of attacks in those with severe asthma by 55 percent and reduces hospital admissions by just under half.

It costs [pounds sterling]250 a jab. Most patients require at least two injections a month at atotal cost of [pounds sterling]6,000 a year. …

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