Background: Omalizumab is approved for the treatment of severe allergic asthma.
Objectives: To compare the efficacy of omalizumab therapy in patients 50 years or older with patients younger than 50 years.
Methods: Between November 2005 and November 2007 a total of 174 asthma patients 50 years or older (40.7% male, 51.1% taking oral corticosteroids, and mean [SD] serum IgE level of 315  U/L) and 297 asthma patients younger than 50 years (40.0% male, 50.5% taking oral corticosteroids, and mean [SD] serum IgE level of 363  U/L) who met the European Union criteria for add-on therapy with anti-IgE were treated prospectively with omalizumab for 4 months as part of 2 postmarketing surveillance trials.
Results: Compared with the pretrial period omalizumab treatment reduced the rate of severe exacerbations in patients 50 years or older by 68.9% (P < .001) and in patients younger than 50 years by 75.4% (P < .001). After 4 months there was a marked reduction of daily asthma symptoms and nocturnal awakenings by 67.8% and 72.6% in the older and by 79.3% and 82.5% in the younger patients, respectively (P < .001, all 4 comparisons). In 60% of patients 50 years or older lung function improved compared with 69% of patients younger than 50 years. Efficacy of omalizumab was rated as excellent or good by most physicians in patients 50 years or older (68.4%) and younger than 50 years (76.8%, P = .05 elderly vs younger). Adverse events were reported in 35.5% of patients 50 years or older and 32.1% of patients younger than 50 years. There was a higher rate of discontinuation of omalizumab therapy in older patients (20.9% vs 11.1%, P = .006).
Conclusions: The present study confirms the clinical efficacy of omalizumab in patients with severe allergic asthma irrespective of age in a real-life setting outside the omalizumab trial program.
Copyright © 2010 American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.