Dupixent® – A Revolutionary New Atopic Dermatitis Drug Therapy
The long wait for a new systemic treatment for atopic dermatitis (AD) is finally over! Just as long-suffering Cubs fans had to wait more than 100 years for a World Series championship, those who suffer from moderate to severe AD have waited many decades for a highly effective, on-label medication indicated for serious non-controlled skin disease. A few weeks ago, the FDA approved Dupixent® (Dupilumab) for release. It is the first and only biologic agent approved for AD in the world. It is currently only available in the U. S. market, and it is given via under-the-skin injection every two weeks. Dupixent® follows in the footsteps of several other biologic agents that began to come to market about 20 years ago for autoimmune diseases including psoriasis and arthritis.
Biologic agents differ from most other drugs in that they must be administered by injection. They are complex, genetically engineered proteins manufactured in high-tech facilities that target specific components of the immune system in order to decrease chronic inflammation. If they were taken in pill form, they would be easily broken down and inactivated by the digestive tract. Most previously available medications for AD broadly and non-specifically targeted skin inflammation. The target has previously always been general inflammation of the skin. In contrast, Dupixent® specifically blocks overactive immune cells called interleukin-4 that directly contribute to the immune cascade that drive the chronic skin inflammation of AD. Normally, interleukins aid the immune system in fighting off invading viruses and bacteria, but in a person with AD, interleukins needlessly help create inflammation in the skin leading to itching and rashes.
Based on clinical trials, the majority of patients taking Dupixent® for four months achieved a reduction of 75% in their itching and rashes. The most common side effects reported were conjunctivitis (pink eye), injection site reactions, and cold sores. Unlike topical and systemic steroids that may be used for AD, Dupixent® doesn’t negatively impact the skin or other organ systems. Similar to other drugs taken for chronic conditions, Dupixent® is used as a maintenance therapy for AD. It should not be mistaken for a cure for AD, and just as with other biologic agents used for other conditions, should Dupixent® be discontinued, symptoms are expected to recur. Although it is currently being evaluated in children, Dupixent® is currently only approved for patients 18 and older.
If you suffer from atopic dermatitis and your symptoms are well controlled with your current treatment, there is no reason to alter your regimen. However, if you have moderate to severe AD, and your disease state is not adequately controlled with topical or oral medications, Dupixent® may be right for you. If you have interest in learning more about Dupixent® as an option for AD please contact Advanced Dermatology to schedule a medical appointment with one of our providers to learn more.