Omalizumab has demonstrated efficacy among patients with moderate to severe persistent allergic asthma, whose symptoms are inadequately controlled with other controller agents. This therapy is generally well tolerated, but there are some safety considerations, the most important of which is the rare, but potentially life-threatening, occurrence of omalizumab-associated anaphylaxis.
In Canada, data from the manufacturer of omalizumab indicate that the frequency of anaphylaxis attributed to Xolair in post-marketing use is approximately 0.2%. Other researchers, including the American Omalizumab Joint Task Force (OJTF), have suggested a lower overall frequency of 0.09%.
This paper provides a summary of the epidemiologic research carried out to date and presents a concise, practical set of recommendations for the prevention, monitoring and management of omalizumab-associated anaphylaxis. Prevention tips include advice on patient education measures, concomitant medications and optimal administration. For the first three injections, the recommendation is to monitor in clinic for two hours after the omalizumab injection; for subsequent injections, the monitoring period should be 30 minutes or an appropriate time agreed upon by the individual patient and healthcare professional.
In the event that a patient does experience omalizumab-associated anaphylaxis, the paper provides recommendations for handling the situation in-clinic and recommendations on how to counsel patients to recognize the potential signs and symptoms in the community and react appropriately.