Dupilumab is a drug that is used to treat the symptoms of eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is a skin disease that makes the skin dry and itchy and also causes a red, scaly rash.
How Dupilumab Works
The medication is normally used for adults and children over the age of six who either cannot use other medications or who have not responded to other drugs. Dupilumab works by relaxing the immune system, but it is not an immunosuppressant or a steroid. The medication works by acting on a particular type of protein called an interleukin, which plays a role in inflammation.
Some of the most common side effects of dupilumab include conditions such as conjunctivitis, swollen or puffy eyelids, oral herpes, inflammation of the cornea, eye itching, and dry eye.
Dr. Peter Lio, a dermatologist at Northwestern Medical School, praised the drug as a good alternative to relieving atopic dermatitis for people who do not respond to other types of treatment.
Dupilumab and Conjunctivitis
It works well for most people and with negligible side effects. But Lio did note that about ten percent of patients taking the drug get conjunctivitis. However, most of these cases are mild, involving some redness and irritation, but seldom more than that. Healthcare professionals are looking at ways to prevent the condition and minimize it when it does appear.
He said pharmacists need to know that conjunctivitis is one of the potential side effects of dupilumab, but that it is seldom severe. So, while it’s important for pharmacists to make patients aware that they may experience conjunctivitis, pharmacists need to be careful not to scare patients about the side effects.
It’s important for pharmacists to know that dupilumab represents a real breakthrough for the treatment of atopic dermatitis. Before dupilumab came on the market, there really were no good treatments for the condition. Most of the drugs used prior to this were immunosuppressive drugs, which did help some people, but at much greater risk.
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