A new specialty pharmacy medication for atopic dermatitis gained approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week. This injection medication, called Dupixent® (dupilumab), was developed in concert by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi. It’s the first and only biologic medicine for treating the more difficult cases of atopic dermatitis, which is more commonly known as eczema.
Dupixent is used as a twice monthly subcutaneous injection, which can be done in a patient’s own home from pre-filled syringes. This medication comes with a high price tag, which is part of the reason that patients will need to have tried (without adequate results) other topical prescriptions before moving on to Dupixent.
Dupixent is a monoclonal antibody that targets the immune system by inactivating two inflammatory compounds (called IL-4 and IL-13). FDA approval came after priority review and breakthrough therapy status – both of which sped up the approval process. Research based on more than 2,000 cases found this medication to reduce itching by 40% and result in clear skin for two-thirds of patients. Side effects from Dupixent can include injection site reactions, cold sores, and eye inflammation.
Eczema is not a life-threatening condition, but the symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable in terms of skin rashes, itching, dryness, cracking, and redness. Most patients report the greatest quality of life impact from the itch component of this autoimmune condition, which can even reach the intensity of being debilitating. An estimated 300,000 American adults currently suffer from uncontrolled moderate-to-severe eczema and would potentially benefit from this breakthrough medication.
Dupixent’s Wholesale Acquisition Cost (WAC) will be $37,000 each year; however, costs are expected to be lower for patients and payers as a result of discounts, rebates, and patient assistance programs.