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Dupixent is the first biologic medication approved by the FDA for adults with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. It is taken subcutaneously (by injection) at 300 mg once every other week.
Biologic drugs or “biologics” are genetically engineered from proteins derived from living cells or tissues. Biologics are designed to target specific parts of the immune system that contribute to chronic inflammatory diseases such as atopic dermatitis.
Biologics take an “inside out” approach to treating inflammatory conditions by addressing the issue at the immune system level, the root cause of many diseases. You can find a more complete explanation here.
Dupixent works by blocking a type of protein called an interleukin, or IL, from binding to their cell receptors. Interleukins contribute to a functioning immune system by helping to fight off viruses or bacteria in our bodies. When the immune system goes haywire, it can trigger certain ILs to mistakenly attack the body, resulting in chronic inflammatory conditions such as atopic dermatitis.
Dupixent works on two interleukins thought to contribute to atopic diseases: IL-4 and IL-13. By blocking IL-4 and IL-13 from binding to the receptors, Dupixent curbs the immune system over-reaction that results in atopic dermatitis. A calmed immune system leads to fewer and/or less severe symptoms of AD.
No. Like all biologics, Dupixent is made from proteins, and must be given by injection. If given in a pill, our digestive tract will easily break these proteins down – much like it does when we eat a piece of steak – and make the drug ineffective.
Also like all biologics, Dupixent is considered a “large molecule” drug. When applied topically, large molecule drugs are unable to penetrate the skin’s surface to carry the medication to the immune system.
In clinical trials, more than half of patients using Dupixent for 16 weeks reported their AD symptoms were reduced by 75%.
Because of the chronic (recurring) nature of atopic dermatitis, you must remain on Dupixent to continue the clinical benefits of the drug.
No. The FDA approved the drug for use with adults with moderate to severe AD only. However, it is currently being evaluated in children with severe AD (6 months to 11 years of age) and adolescents with moderate to severe AD (12 to 17 years of age).
In clinical trials, the most common side effect reported was conjunctivitis (pink eye), injection site infections and cold sores on the lips and in the mouth.
Cost depends on your health insurance coverage for prescriptions. Sanofi Genzyme and Regeneron, the companies that make Dupixent, have programs to help with your copay costs. You can apply at www.dupixent.com.
Dupixent is available by prescription only. Talk to your doctor and visit www.dupixent.com to learn more.
Currently Dupixent is only available in the United States. Approval in other countries will be dependent upon review and approval by the appropriate governing board.
Loosely, moderate to severe atopic dermatitis is determined by skin involvement (how much of your body surface is affected) and severity of symptoms such as redness, itch and rash that cannot be controlled by topical medications alone. However, atopic dermatitis can be considered moderate or severe if the disease has a significant negative impact on your life. It’s important to talk to your doctor about how AD affects not just your skin but also any other aspects of your life.
Dupixent has been studied for use with prescription topical steroids. Talk to your doctor about how to use Dupixent and what you should and shouldn’t do with regards to other therapies.