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Anti-IgE therapy for asthma: an audit at atertiary care centre in Saudi Arabia

Ihab Mokhtar Weheba,ab Abeer Mohamed Abdelsayed,ac Rand Khaled Arnaout,a Mohamed Omar Zeitouni,a Khalid Fahad Mobaireek,d Tahani Bakheet AlHarthi,e Abdullah Fahad Mobeireeka

From the aDepartment of Medicine, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; bNational Research Centre, Cairo, Egypt; cPulmonary Department, Ain Shams University Faculty of Medicine, Cairo, Egypt; dDepartment of Pediatrics, King Khalid University Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; eDepartment of Pharmacy, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 

How to cite this article:

Weheba I, Abdelsayed A, Arnaout RK, Zeitouni M, Mobaireek K, AlHarthi T, et al. Anti-IgE therapy for asthma: an audit at a tertiary care centre in Saudi Arabia. Ann Saudi Med 2018; 38(6): 439-444. 


BACKGROUND: Although anti-IgE therapy has been shown to offer numerous benefits, we suspect it is underutilized locally. To date, there are no studies on any aspect of its use in the Arab region. There is also no information on whether physicians follow current guidelines nor on patient response to this form of therapy. 


OBJECTIVE: Assess the use of omalizumab for patients with difficult asthma at a tertiary care center.


DESIGN: Retrospective, descriptive.


SETTING: Tertiary care hospital.


PATIENTS AND METHODS: Information was collected from medical records and interviews of all patients who received a minimum of 6 months of omalizumab, including data on practices of the prescribing physician (pulmonary versus allergy), indications, dose, subjective response, number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations, changes in asthma medications, adverse effects, and the setting for delivery of therapy. 


MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Extent to which current guidelines for prescribing omalizumab were followed. Patient subjective and objective responses to treatment as reflected by changes in the use of medications and lung function before and after therapy.


SAMPLE SIZE: 50 patients.


RESULTS: Of the 50 consecutive patients, 35 were female and the mean (SD) age was 46.3 (9.2) years. Only 28 patients (56 %) met all the criteria for the prescription of omalizumab as per current guidelines; 18 (64%) by pulmonary and 10 (36%) by allergy physicians (P<.05). Pulmonary physicians performed more tests for conditions complicating or simulating asthma (P<.05). The mean (SD) duration of treatment by omalizumab of 35 (22) months was longer in patients managed by allergists (42 [24] months) than pulmonary physicians (30 [21] months) (P>.05). Both physician groups prescribed a lower initial dose than recommended (P<.05 recommended vs. prescribed). Patients reported a significant improvement in symptoms, reduction in the use of broncho-dilators and oral steroids and in the use of healthcare services (from 16.28 [7.9] to 2.08 [1.78], P<.0001) mean values from sum of hospitalizations/year, ER visits/year, exacerbations/year, but not in other medications or pulmonary function tests (P>.05).


CONCLUSION: Despite several benefits, notably a reduction in utilization of health services and asthma medication, anti-IgE therapy is probably underutilized locally. Pulmonary physicians are more likely to follow the guidelines than allergy physicians. This study suggests that there is room for improvement in the prescription practices, particularly in dosing and the setting for delivery. Further multicenter prospective studies are required to identify gaps in the current practices and improve asthma management. 


LIMITATIONS: Too few patients met inclusion criteria, lack of control group, and use of a subjective assessment for patient symptoms as opposed to validated questionnaires.





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