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Mepolizumab Beneficial in Eosinophilic Asthma

Drug is associated with fewer exacerbations, lower blood and sputum eosinophil counts

WEDNESDAY, Mar. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Mepolizumab therapy reduces exacerbations and has other benefits in asthma patients with eosinophilia, according to two studies published in the Mar. 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

In one study, Pranabashis Haldar of University Hospitals of Leicester National Health Service Trust in the United Kingdom, and colleagues assigned 61 patients with refractory eosinophilic asthma and a history of recurrent severe exacerbations to monthly infusions of mepolizumab or placebo for one year. Mepolizumab was associated with fewer exacerbations in 50 weeks (2.0 versus 3.4 mean exacerbations per patient). It was also associated with a significant improvement in Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire scores and lowered blood and sputum eosinophil counts.

In the other study, Parameswaran Nair, M.D., Ph.D., of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues assigned 20 asthma patients with persistent sputum eosinophilia and symptoms despite prednisone treatment to five monthly infusions of mepolizumab or placebo. There were 12 asthma exacerbations in the placebo group but only one in the mepolizumab group, the researchers report. Patients on mepolizumab were able to reduce their prednisone dose more than those on placebo.

"Mepolizumab reduced the number of blood and sputum eosinophils and allowed prednisone sparing in patients who had asthma with sputum eosinophilia despite prednisone treatment," Nair and colleagues conclude.

Both studies were supported by grants from GlaxoSmithKline (which provided mepolizumab in the second study), and several authors report receiving fees and grants from or being employed by GlaxoSmithKline and other pharmaceutical companies. Three authors of the second study are listed on a patent application for a sputum-filtration device.

Abstract - Haldar
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Abstract - Nair
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