Dupixent is the first biologic medication approved by the FDA for adults and children aged 6+ years with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. It is taken subcutaneously (by injection) at 300 mg once every other week.
What is a biologic drug?
Biologic drugs or “biologics” are genetically engineered from proteins derived from living cells or tissues. Biologics are designed to target specific parts of the immune system that contribute to chronic inflammatory diseases such as atopic dermatitis.
Biologics take an “inside out” approach to treating inflammatory conditions by addressing the issue at the immune system level, the root cause of many diseases. You can find a more complete explanation here.
How does Dupixent work?
Dupixent works by blocking a type of protein called an interleukin, or IL, from binding to their cell receptors. Interleukins contribute to a functioning immune system by helping to fight off viruses or bacteria in our bodies. When the immune system goes haywire, it can trigger certain ILs to mistakenly attack the body, resulting in chronic inflammatory conditions such as atopic dermatitis.
Dupixent works on two interleukins thought to contribute to atopic diseases: IL-4 and IL-13. By blocking IL-4 and IL-13 from binding to the receptors, Dupixent curbs the immune system over-reaction that results in atopic dermatitis. A calmed immune system leads to fewer and/or less severe symptoms of AD.
Does Dupixent come in a pill or cream?
No. Like all biologics, Dupixent is made from proteins, and must be given by injection. If given in a pill, our digestive tract will easily break these proteins down – much like it does when we eat a piece of steak – and make the drug ineffective.
Also like all biologics, Dupixent is considered a “large molecule” drug. When applied topically, large molecule drugs are unable to penetrate the skin’s surface to carry the medication to the immune system.
Is Dupixent effective for atopic dermatitis?
In clinical trials, more than half of patients using Dupixent for 16 weeks reported their AD symptoms were reduced by 75%.
How long do I have to take Dupixent?
Because of the chronic (recurring) nature of atopic dermatitis, you must remain on Dupixent to continue the clinical benefits of the drug.
Can children use it?
Yes. The FDA approved the drug for use in children aged 6 years and up.
Is Dupixent safe? What are the side effects?
In clinical trials, the most common side effect reported was conjunctivitis (pink eye), injection site infections and cold sores on the lips and in the mouth.