Drug for Asthma (Example 8) Eosinophils are a form of white blood cell that is often present in people suffering from allergies. People with asthma and high levels of eosinophils who used steroid inhalers were given either a new drug or a placebo. Read extracts from the abstract of this study that appear below, and then evaluate the study. See page 539 for questions and guidance.

“Methods: We enrolled patients with persistent, moderate-to severe asthma and a blood eosinophil count of at least 300 cells per microliter . . . who used medium-dose to high-dose inhaled glucocorticoids. . .. We administered dupilumab (300 mg) or placebo subcutaneously once weekly. The primary end point was the occurrence of an asthma exacerbation [worsening].

Results: A total of 52 patients were [randomly] assigned to the dupilumab group, and 52 patients were [randomly] assigned to the placebo group. . .. Three patients had an asthma exacerbation with dupilumab (6%) versus 23 with placebo (44%), corresponding to an 87% reduction with dupilumab (odds ratio, 0.08; 95% confidence interval, 0.02 to 0.28; P

Conclusions: In patients with persistent, moderate-to-severe asthma and elevated eosinophil levels who used inhaled glucocorticoids and LABAs, dupilumab therapy, as compared with placebo, was associated with fewer asthma exacerbations [worsenings].”

(Source: Sally Wenzel et al. 2013. Dupilumab in persistent asthma with elevated eosinophil levels. New England Journal of Medicine 368, 2455–2466.)

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