Those who suffer from eczema know how debilitating the skin disease (known as atopic dermatitis) can be: Skin can become so itchy that you want to rip it from your body. Flare-ups can also result in oozing and cracked skin that’s so painful, it’s hard to go to sleep. And those are just two of the condition’s symptoms. Even more frustrating? The disease’s most popular treatments — bleach baths (yes, that's a real remedy), compresses, and topical steroid creams — can be just as tough to manage. But now, there’s new hope for the 31.6 million Americans living with eczema: The FDA has just approved the first biologic to help treat these symptoms for adults with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis and for whom topical treatments have been proven a bust.
Called Dupixent, the self-administered injection is comprised of an antibody designed to slow the overactive communication of two proteins (IL-4 and IL-13) in the body which are thought to drive inflammation in patients with atopic dermatitis. By blocking these proteins from binding to cell receptors, Dupixent calms a hyperactive immune system and lowers inflammation. And so far, the results are promising.
In clinical trials, more than half of patients who used 300 mg of Dupixent every two weeks with no other forms of treatment saw a 75% or greater reduction in the severity of their symptoms (or what’s called their Eczema Area and Severity Index score, an instrument used by investigators to measure the severity of clinical signs in atopic dermatitis.)
But perhaps even more impressive than the trial’s results is the fact that an entirely new category of treatment is now available for this hard-to-manage disease. The biologic is being heralded as a major breakthrough for atopic dermatitis because it’s the first to treat the underlying causes of the disease in the body, rather than treating the effects of the disease on the skin.
“For those with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, topical treatments aren’t always effective to control the disease,” notes Julie Block, President & Chief Executive Officer of the National Eczema Association. “Until now, there has not been an approved FDA treatment option for this population. This new biologic targets certain functioning of the immune system to keep it from over-reacting.”
Even better? Eczema sufferers won’t have to wait much longer to try this new type of treatment. Dupixent is expected to become available to U.S. healthcare providers and patients later this week.