Highlights for omalizumab
Omalizumab is used for moderate to severe allergic asthma for people who aren’t responding to their current asthma medications.
It may also be used for hives that occur without a known cause (chronic idiopathic urticarial).
Omalizumab is only administered in a clinic setting by a healthcare professional. You cannot give this drug to yourself.
Omalizumab is available as the brand Xolair.
Common side effects of omalizumab are injection site reactions. These may include redness, swelling, itching, and warmth at the site where omalizumab is injected.
What is omalizumab?
Your healthcare provider will inject this drug under your skin (subcutaneous injection). Only a healthcare provider can give you this drug. You can’t give it to yourself.
Why it's used
This drug helps to decrease the number of asthma attacks you have. It is given to people aged 6 years and older who have moderate to severe allergic asthma that is not controlled by corticosteroid inhalers.
How it works
This drug injection belongs to a class of drugs called anti-IgE monoclonal antibodies. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.
omalizumab Side Effects
More Common Side Effects
Some of the more common side effects that can occur with use of omalizumab include:
reactions at the injection site
pain in your joints, arms, and legs
swelling of the nose, throat, or sinuses
If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious Side Effects
Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:
Allergic reaction. Symptoms may include:
- muscle aches
- trouble breathing
- swelling of your tongue, lips, face, and throat
- low blood pressure
Shortness of breath
Coughing up blood
Severe pain and numbness or tingling in hands or feet
Certain types of cancer. Symptoms may include:
- Change in bladder or bowel habits
- Persistent cough or hoarseness
- Sores that don’t heal
- Unusual bleeding or discharge
- Change in the size or color of a mole or wart
- Persistent upset stomach or difficulty swallowing
- Lumps or thickened areas on your body
Infection from parasites. You may be at higher risk of infection from parasites, such as roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, or threadworm, after receiving this drug. Symptoms may include:
- blood or worms or both in your stool
- persistent upset stomach
- nausea and vomiting
- loss of appetite
- rash contained to a specific area on your body
- weight loss
This drug can cause tiredness.
You may have the following reactions at the injection site:
omalizumab May Interact with Other Medications
An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well. To help prevent interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking.
To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
How to Take omalizumab (Dosage)
Your doctor will determine a dosage that’s right for you based on your individual needs. Your general health may affect your dosage. Tell your doctor about all health conditions you have before your healthcare provider administers the drug to you.
This drug comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.
If you stop taking the drug or don’t take it at all
Your condition may not improve and it may worsen.
If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule
Your medication may not work as well. Keep all appointments you have with your doctor and laboratory.
If you take too much
You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. If you think you’ve taken too much of the drug, act right away. Call your doctor or local poison control center, or go to the nearest emergency room.
What to do if you miss a dose
Call your doctor as soon as you realize you have to miss an appointment to receive an injection.
How to tell if the drug is working
Your asthma symptoms will improve and you will experience fewer asthma attacks.
This drug is used for long-term treatment.
- Omalizumab injection. MedlinePlus. (2015, February 2). Retrieved August 14, 2015, from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a603031.html
- Xolair (omalizumab) for injection, for subcutaneous use. (2016, July). Retrieved from http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/103976s5225lbl.pdf
Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group
Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on September 21, 2016