Asthma drug treats chronic hives, study finds

For hive sufferers who do not find relief with traditional antihistimines, an asthma drug has proven to be the “magic bullet” in treatment, the New York Times reported.

Xolair, or omalizumab, is commonly used to treat allergic asthma. But a phase III trial proved monthly injections of the medicine reduced hives and relieved itchiness, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

“This is the magic bullet that patients have been waiting for the last 40 years,” said Dr. Marcus Maurer, the lead author of the study and a professor of dermatology and allergy at Charité-Universitätsmedizin in Berlin, according to the Times.

Maurer received consulting fees from many pharmaceutical companies, including the two that paid for the study – Genentech and Novartis. The two companies are also the ones developing the drug.

If the Food and Drug Administration approves the drug, it would bring relief to chronic hive suffers – those who have idiopathic urticaria. These patients get hives for often unknown reasons and symptoms may last anywhere from months to years.

Currently, sufferers often have to take steroids or immunosuppressant drugs – and even some people do not respond to those medications.

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