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Sometimes, routine asthma controller medicines – such as inhalers – aren’t enough to help manage asthma symptoms. If you have moderate-to-severe asthma and your medicines aren’t helping, a biologic treatment may be an option for you.

What Are Biologic Treatments?

Biologic drugs (or biologics) are a kind of medicine that is made by living things, such as animals, plants, or bacteria. Many of these biologics are antibodies, which are proteins that are designed to block specific molecules (tiny particles) in the human body.

Asthma biologics work by disrupting cells or blocking specific molecules that trigger inflammation in your airways.

Do I Need to Take a Biologic for My Asthma?

Biologics are a type of controller treatment. Your doctor may prescribe one if you have moderate-to-severe asthma that remains uncontrolled even though you use your routine inhaled medicines or pills regularly.

Your asthma may be uncontrolled if:

  • You have asthma symptoms more than two times a week
  • You wake up at night with asthma symptoms more than two times a month
  • You need your reliever inhaler for symptoms more than two times a week
  • You need to take oral corticosteroids more than one time a year
  • You are not able to do all your usual activities

Biologics are an add-on treatment. This means your doctor may have you take them with your routine asthma controller medicine, like an inhaled corticosteroid. Over time, you may be able to reduce your inhaled corticosteroid use or stop taking it altogether. Asthma biologics do not replace quick-relief medicines, such as albuterol.

What Are the Benefits of Biologics?

There are many potential benefits of using a biologic to treat your asthma. They include:

  • Fewer asthma episodes and symptoms
  • Fewer asthma-related trips to the hospital or emergency room
  • Decreased use of oral corticosteroids (like prednisone)
  • Lower dosage of other controller medicines (if recommended by your doctor)
  • Improved lung function

What Should I Do If I Think I Need a Biologic for My Asthma?

If your asthma is not well-controlled with your current treatment, talk with your doctor. Ask them if a biologic could work for you. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved six biologics for asthma, so you and your doctor may be able to find a treatment that works for you.

Some biologics for asthma are also approved for other conditions, such as atopic dermatitis (a type of eczema) or chronic spontaneous urticaria (a type of chronic hives).

The six biologics currently approved for asthma in the U.S. are:

Learn more about biologics for asthma.

Medical Review: Content summarized from Biologics for the Treatment of Asthma which was reviewed November 2023 by Mitchell Grayson, MD

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