(Omalizumab approved by the FDA for Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria)
Chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU) is a skin disease where patients get red and itchy hives that come and go for more than 6 weeks. About 40% of CIU patients also experience angioedema, which is when there is swelling in the deep layers of the skin.
There are many different causes of hives including viruses, allergic reactions to specific foods, drugs, and insects, as well as other specific triggers, so it’s important to see your board certified allergist for an accurate diagnosis! The allergist, after taking your history, doing a comprehensive physical exam and the tests that are appropriate for your situation, will determine if you have CIU.
In general, the first step in the treatment of CIU after it has been diagnosed is antihistamines. If this works, it will help suppress the hives and the swelling. Unfortunately, for up to ½ of the patients with CIU, this does not work! This is bad news for the up to 1% of the world’s population who suffers from CIU, including the 1.5 million people in the U.S. who have this condition.
Omalizumab (Xolair®) is a targeted therapy that binds to Immunoglobulin E (IgE), the “allergic antibody”. It is currently used as a treatment for persistent asthma. The recent FDA approval was mainly based on the results of two major studies (ASTERIA I and II), which studied patients who did not respond to approved doses of antihistamines. The study showed that omalizumab significantly improved hives and itchiness, and in many patients completely cleared the symptoms. The quality of life was also significantly improved for patients treated with omalizumab, as CIU can be associated with depression and anxiety.
If you are someone who suffers from chronic hives, please see your board certified allergist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan! There are new things happening in the field that could significantly change your quality of life.
-by Faith Huang, M.D.
Allergy & Asthma Associates of Southern California provides relief from allergies, asthma, sinus problems, chronic cough and other related conditions. Dr. William E. Berger, Dr. Warner W. Carr, Dr. Mark S. Sugar, Dr. Christina D. Schwindt, and Dr. Faith R. Huang together with their staff specialize in allergy and immunology in Southern California.
If you or your child is suffering from hives or any other type of allergy, please call us at (949) 364-2900 to schedule your appointment today. You can also use our online Request an Appointment form to schedule a future appointment.