Putting Health First: Amanda's Allergic Asthma Story
Amanda, a fourth-grade literacy teacher, wife and stepmom from Glenwood, Arkansas is among the 26.5 million people in the U.S. affected by asthma. Approximately 60 percent of adults with asthma have allergic asthma, which is caused by allergens in the air, such as dust mites, pet dander or cockroach debris that can trigger a potential asthma attack. Allergic asthma symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, wheezing or tightening of the chest. These symptoms can lead to an asthma attack.
Amanda was often sick as a child. “My mother used to say that I would walk across the floor and experience asthma symptoms,” she said. Her health constantly fluctuated, even after her allergist prescribed multiple medications including inhaled corticosteroids. “I’d get better, and then I’d get symptoms again,” she explained.
In her early 30s, Amanda continued to experience asthma. “I was taking multiple medications a day, and I had to do breathing treatments at home,” she said. “I didn’t want to have to take so much medicine. It seemed like whatever I was taking wasn’t helping enough.”
In 2017, Amanda’s health took a turn for the worse when she experienced a severe asthma attack at work. Following that incident, her allergist diagnosed her with allergic asthma with triggers including cat dander and dust mites.
Since her severe allergic asthma was not well controlled, Amanda’s doctor recommended adding a prescription subcutaneous injectable medicine called XOLAIR® (omalizumab) to help decrease her allergic asthma attacks and symptoms. After doing research, including reading the warnings such as anaphylaxis, a severe, life threatening allergic reaction, she decided with her doctor that this treatment was worth a try.
“I’m just thankful that medicine has come this far. I wish I’d known about it a long time ago,” Amanda said. Since taking XOLAIR, she has seen improvements in her allergic asthma symptoms and is having fewer asthma attacks. Amanda is also aware of and tries her best to avoid her allergic triggers. While XOLAIR worked for Amanda, it may not be right for everyone. She advises others to seek help from a specialist right away. “If your body is telling you something is wrong, go speak with an allergist or pulmonologist.”
Visit Xolair.com for more information about allergic asthma and how it can be treated. Ask your doctor if XOLAIR might be right for you.
INDICATION & IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
What is XOLAIR? XOLAIR® (omalizumab) for subcutaneous use is an injectable prescription medicine used to treat patients 6 years of age and older with moderate to severe persistent asthma whose asthma symptoms are not controlled by asthma medicines called inhaled corticosteroids. A skin or blood test is performed to see if you have allergies to year-round allergens.
XOLAIR is not used to treat other allergic conditions, acute bronchospasm or status asthmaticus.
What is the most important information I should know about XOLAIR? Severe allergic reaction. A severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis can happen when you receive XOLAIR. The reaction can occur after the first dose, or after many doses. It may also occur right after a XOLAIR injection or days later. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition and can lead to death. Go to the nearest emergency room right away if you have any of these symptoms of an allergic reaction:
- wheezing, shortness of breath, cough, chest tightness, or trouble breathing
- low blood pressure, dizziness, fainting, rapid or weak heartbeat, anxiety, or feeling of “impending doom”
- flushing, itching, hives, or feeling warm
- swelling of the throat or tongue, throat tightness, hoarse voice, or trouble swallowing
Your healthcare provider will monitor you closely for symptoms of an allergic reaction while you are receiving XOLAIR and for a period of time after your injection. Your healthcare provider should talk to you about getting medical treatment if you have symptoms of an allergic reaction after leaving the healthcare provider’s office or treatment center.
Do not receive XOLAIR if you are allergic to omalizumab or any of the ingredients.
Before receiving XOLAIR, tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:
- have a latex allergy or any other allergies (such as food allergy or seasonal allergies). The needle cap on the Xolair prefilled syringe may contain latex
- have sudden breathing problems (bronchospasm)
- have ever had a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis
- have or have had a parasitic infection
- have or have had cancer
- are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if XOLAIR may harm your unborn baby.
- are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if XOLAIR passes into your breast milk. Talk with your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby while you receive XOLAIR.
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins or herbal supplements.
How should I receive XOLAIR?
- XOLAIR should be given by your healthcare provider, in a healthcare setting.
- XOLAIR is given in 1 or more injections under the skin (subcutaneous), 1 time every 2 or 4 weeks.
- In asthma patients, a blood test for a substance called IgE must be performed prior to starting XOLAIR to determine the appropriate dose and dosing frequency.
- Do not decrease or stop taking any of your other asthma medicine unless your healthcare providers tell you to.
- You may not see improvement in your symptoms right away after XOLAIR treatment.
What are the possible side effects of XOLAIR?
XOLAIR may cause serious side effects, including:
- See, “What is the most important information I should know about XOLAIR” regarding the risk of anaphylaxis.
- Cancer. Cases of cancer were observed in some people who received XOLAIR.
- Inflammation of your blood vessels. Rarely, this can happen in people with asthma who receive XOLAIR. This usually, but not always, happens in people who also take a steroid medicine by mouth that is being stopped or the dose is being lowered. It is not known whether this is caused by XOLAIR. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have rash; chest pain; shortness of breath; or a feeling of pins and needles or numbness of your arms or legs.
- Fever, muscle aches, and rash. Some people who take XOLAIR get these symptoms 1 to 5 days after receiving a XOLAIR injection. If you have any of these symptoms, tell your healthcare provider.
- Parasitic infection. Some people who are at a high risk for parasite (worm) infections, get a parasite infection after receiving XOLAIR. Your healthcare provider can test your stool to check if you have a parasite infection.
- Heart and circulation problems. Some people who receive XOLAIR have had chest pain, heart attack, blood clots in the lungs or legs, or temporary symptoms of weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech, or altered vision. It is not known whether these are caused by XOLAIR.
The most common side effects of XOLAIR:
- In adults and children 12 years of age and older with asthma: pain especially in your arms and legs, dizziness, feeling tired, skin rash, bone fractures, and pain or discomfort of your ears.
- In children 6 to less than 12 years of age with asthma: common cold symptoms, headache, fever, sore throat, pain or discomfort of your ears, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and nose bleeds.
These are not all the possible side effects of XOLAIR. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to the FDA at (800) FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch. You may also report side effects to Genentech at (888) 835-2555 or Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation at 888-669-6682.
Please see full Prescribing Information, including Medication Guide for additional Important Safety Information.