Eczema is often thought of as “just a rash”, and at its core, that’s exactly what it is. But the effects eczema can have on one’s life are greatly underrated. Discolouration, swollen and dry skin and great discomfort are all hallmarks of eczema. “It was like every day I had poison ivy and fire ants on myself,” says one sufferer of the disease.
The symptoms can even be severe enough to warrant the use of sick days. A study in Denmark found that, on average, individuals take 6 days off work every 6 months due to their eczema. Current treatments for eczema are ineffective, and some are even risky. In dire situations, patients have turned to immunosuppressants and steroids—treatments that have potential side effects of kidney failure, bone loss and psychotic breaks.
Enter Dupilumab. This drug is an antibody that blocks the functioning of the T-cell responsible for the inflammation and hallmark symptoms of eczema. Patients who received the drug reported significant improvements within two weeks. Itching was reduced, and 40% of participants saw their rashes clear up. One participant with lesions all over his body claims this treatment “saved his life”, as prior to it he felt he may as well “give up and die”
This promising new treatment leaves the 15 million Americans suffering from eczema a new option for relief. Dupilumab creators expect FDA approval by March of 2017. However, relief may come at a price. While there is no projected price for this drug yet, it falls into the biologic category—the most expensive drug type.