New Asthma Medications and Treatment Advances

Medically Reviewed by Carmelita Swiner, MD on November 12, 2022
3 min read

There are already many options to treat asthma, and researchers study new ways to treat this condition. If you have asthma, you can learn about the newer treatments and those that are in the works.

There are a few newer types of treatment that you can use for certain types of asthma. If you use an inhaler and still have problems with your asthma, biologic therapy targets different parts of your body to help you breathe better. Your doctor will inject you with whichever type of biologic therapy is best for you.

For certain types of asthma, biologics might help.

  • Benralizumab (Fasenra). You can also use this drug if you have eosinophilic asthma. You’ll get a shot once every 4 weeks for the first three times, and then once every 8 weeks. You may have a headache or a sore throat after your shot.
  • Dupilumab (Dupixent). This drug is also for hard-to-control eosinophilic asthma. You’ll get a shot once every other week. A doctor will do the first three shots to show you how to safely do it, and then you’ll continue to give yourself the rest of your treatment at home. Afterward, you might have a sore throat, temporary redness or pain, or a higher eosinophil level.
  • Mepolizumab (Nucala). This treatment is for eosinophilic asthma, which causes inflammation in your lungs from certain white blood cells. This drug will lower the amount of those white blood cells in your body. Your doctor will give you this as a shot every 4 weeks. Side effects include headaches, skin reaction, neck pain, fatigue, and weakness.
  • Omalizumab (Xolair). This drug is best if you have bad asthma and year-round allergies. It will help you against dust, pet dander, or other common allergens. You’ll get it in one or two injections, every 2 to 4 weeks, based on how much you need. You may have a few side effects like joint and muscle aches, fatigue, and a slight skin reaction.
  • Reslizumab (Cinqair). It can treat eosinophilic asthma. Your doctor will give you this drug through an IV, which takes about 20 to 50 minutes. You’ll get it once every 4 weeks. Common side effects are a sore throat and muscle aches.

After your doctor gives you any kind of biologic therapy, they may have you wait in the doctor’s office to make sure you don’t have a reaction to the drug. It’s rare, but sometimes a severe allergic reaction can happen after you get these treatments.

Doctors have studied a drug called fevipiprant in hopes that it will safely treat asthma one day. Fevipiprant, which you’ll take by mouth, will be able to help if you have mild asthma or severe asthma.

There’s no set date for fevipiprant to be ready to use. But it’s in its final stages of study.

Long-term control treatments help you avoid an asthma flare-up. They should be taken even when you don’t have asthma symptoms. These medications include inhaled corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers, and bronchodilators such as long-acting beta-agonists, muscarinic antagonists, and anticholinergics. Some drugs combine corticosteroids with one or more bronchodilators.

Quick-relief medications are only for when you need them. They're called rescue methods because they can ease or stop symptoms of an asthma attack. You shouldn't take them every day, and you should tell your doctor if you feel the need to take rescue asthma drugs more than the suggested amount. Several types are available, including short-acting beta-agonists, anticholinergics, and oral corticosteroids. 

You should use newer, injectable biologics only if other asthma treatments aren’t enough for you. If you begin taking biologics, it’s important that you still take all of your other long-term or quick-relief asthma medications unless your doctor tells you to stop. Keep up with your asthma checkups, and ask your doctor if you should still take certain medications once you start biologics.