Conference Coverage

Omalizumab helps asthma COPD overlap patients


Key clinical point: In patients with asthma COPD overlap (ACO), treatment with omalizumab was associated with decreased asthma exacerbations and improved symptom control, similar to that seen in non-ACO asthma patients.

Major finding: Asthma exacerbation numbers were reduced from baseline levels though month 12, from 3 or more exacerbations in both ACO and non ACO groups to 1.1 or less.

Data source: Subgroup analysis from a prospective observational study of omalizumab that focused on 78 patients (from 737 total) that had asthma and comorbid COPD according to one of two definitions.

Disclosures: Dr. Hanania reported receiving research support from Roche/Genentech, among other companies. Genentech sponsored the study and employs three of the investigators.



– Omalizumab (Xolair, Genentech) decreased asthma exacerbations and improved symptom control to a similar extent in patients with asthma chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (ACO) overlap as seen in patients with asthma but no COPD, in a study presented at the CHEST annual meeting.

While patients with COPD typically experience annual declines in lung function, at least some of the ACO patients in this study, which included one of the largest observational cohorts to date of patients with ACO, showed preserved lung function after 48 weeks of omalizumab treatment.

Dr. Nicola Hanania of Baylor University, Houston Debra Beck/Frontline Medical News
Dr. Nicola Hanania
“These data deal with a topic that we scratch our heads about all the time – the asthma COPD overlap. … Few of our therapies for asthma have been studied in this patient population,” said Nicola Hanania, MD, FCCP, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “We believe that about 16% of patients with asthma or COPD have ACO,” he added.

Dr. Hanania presented data from the “real-world” PROSPERO (Prospective Study to Evaluate Predictors of Clinical Effectiveness in Response to Omalizumab), which unlike many asthma studies, did not exclude patients with comorbid COPD. PROSPERO was a prospective, multicenter, observational, 48-week study of patients (n = 806) who were 12 years of age and older who were initiating omalizumab treatment for moderate to severe allergic asthma. Asthma control was assessed monthly using the Asthma Control Test (ACT).

Participants were identified as having ACO based on two approaches: 1. A positive medical history of asthma and COPD, or 2. A medical history of asthma (but not COPD), at least a 10-pack per year smoking history, and an forced expiratory volume in 1 second/forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC) of less than 0.7. From the 728 study participants included in this secondary analysis, 56 were classified as ACO according to the first definition (ACO cohort A) and 59 according to the second (ACO cohort B). Thirty-seven patients fell into both groups.

“All groups had a reduction in their exacerbation rates through 12 months, and it didn’t differ whether they had ACO in cohort A or cohort B, or no ACO,” Dr. Hanania reported. Specifically, asthma exacerbations numbers were reduced from baseline levels though month 12, from 3 or more exacerbations in both ACO and non ACO groups to 1.1 or less.

Additionally, all three groups showed clinically meaningful improvements in their ACT scores, with mean improvements of 4.1, 4.7, and 4.4 units for ACO cohort A, ACO cohort B, and non-ACO patients, respectively.

Postbronchodilator FEV1 at study end was improved by 36 mL in ACO cohort A and by 23 mL in the non-ACO cohort. But a 14 mL reduction in postbronchodilator FEV1 was noted in ACO cohort B, “a reminder that the cohort B population was those patients with fixed airway obstruction and smoking history,” said Dr. Hanania.

Mean age in the non-ACO population was 50 years, rising to 57.6 years in ACO cohort A and 55 years in ACO cohort B. All three groups had three or more asthma exacerbations in the 12 months before starting omalizumab, and all groups had mean ACT scores of less than 15 at baseline, indicating that they were all symptomatic.

Adverse events were consistent with the known safety profile of omalizumab.

“The significance of this study [is that] it’s one of the largest ACO cohorts that we know of and I think it encourages all of us to look at or re-visit both COPD therapies and asthma therapies in populations [not included] in clinical trials because in real life, these are the patients we see … and we don’t have evidence,” Dr. Hanania said.

Dr. Hanania reported receiving research support from Roche/Genentech, among other companies. Three of the investigators are employees of Genentech, the study’s sponsor.

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