A new eczema treatment approved by the TGA in Australia is putting chronic sufferers into remission.
Patients like Brett Wagenaar, who at times refused to leave his home in fear of strangers’ stares, say the drug Dupixent has been life changing.
“My face was always red and people would ask me had I been sunburnt,” he said.
“You live with it on a daily basis and get anxiety and depression. You don’t want to do things like go outdoors and want to stay inside on the couch.”
After trying countless drugs, changing his diet and avoiding alcohol proved futile, Brett took part in a two year trial of the drug.
His eczema completely disappeared within eight weeks.
“I wasn’t depressed, my anxiety had gone away, I felt normal again, it was a lifesaving cure.”
On a wider scale, 85 per cent of patients experienced a 50 per cent reduction in eczema, and combined with topical steroid treatment entered remission with 100 per cent of their eczema gone.
Dupixent is a form of Biologics; antibodies manufactured in genetically modified yeast cultures that disrupt molecular targets.
Professor Rodney Sinclair from Sinclair Dermatology said it is a safer, long term solution.
“It’s probably been 15 years since there was a new treatment for eczema so there’s been a lot of unmet demand in the community,” he said.
“It is something that can get patients off the roller coaster of flares and remissions.”
Only approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration last week, Dupixent is now awaiting Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee recommendation so it can be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
That would bring the cost down to $37 a prescription.
“I can’t afford it in its current state,” Brett said.
“I am begging for PBS approval because this treatment changed my life and I know it will change others.”
While approved by the TGA, Dupixent is not yet available for prescription.
Pharmaceutical company Sanofi Genzyme will be seeking reimbursement for Dupixent but cannot speculate on a timeline for this.
Dupixent is only indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe atopic dermatitis in adult patients who are candidates for chronic systemic therapy.