Therapy with omalizumab for patients with severe allergic asthma improves asthma control and reduces overall healthcare costs

Ir J Med Sci. 2011 Sep;180(3):637-41. doi: 10.1007/s11845-011-0716-2. Epub 2011 May 11.


Background: Patients with asthma who have persistent symptoms despite treatment with inhaled steroids and long-acting beta agonists are considered to have severe asthma. Omalizumab is a monoclonal antibody directed against IgE, which is used as an add-on treatment for patients who have severe persistent allergic asthma.

Aims: The aim of this study was to assess the clinical benefit and healthcare utilisation of patients who responded to omalizumab therapy and to establish an overall cost implication.

Methods: This was an observational retrospective cohort study designed to investigate the effect of omalizumab on exacerbations of asthma before and after 6 months of treatment in Irish patients.

Results: Centres who had treated patients with severe allergic asthma for the 6 months prior and post omalizumab treatment were audited with a standardised assessment tool. Sixty-three (32 male) patients were studied. In the 6 months prior to omalizumab 41 of 63 (66%) had been hospitalised, and this fell to 15 of 63 (24%), p < 0.0001 in the 6 months after treatment was started. Hospital admissions reduced from 2.4 ± 0.41 to 0.8 ± 0.37 and the mean number of bed days occupied was reduced from 16.6 ± 2.94 to 5.3 ± 2.57 days, p < 0.001. The number of oral corticosteroid doses used fell from 3.1 ± 0.27 to 1.2 ± 0.17, p < 0.001. The overall cost saving per omalizumab responder patients for 6 months was <euro>834.

Conclusions: Six months therapy with omalizumab reduced the number of bed days, the number of hospitalisations and the use of oral corticosteroids compared to the 6 months prior to commencement. Despite the cost of the additional therapy there were overall savings in health costs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Anti-Idiotypic / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / economics
  • Asthma / prevention & control*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Omalizumab
  • Respiratory Function Tests


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Antibodies, Anti-Idiotypic
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Omalizumab