Update on treatment of hereditary angioedema

BACKGROUND: Hereditary Angioedema (HAE) is a rare disease characterized by recurrent, self-limiting episodes of swelling. New therapies have recently emerged and are now available; however, many physicians are not aware of the new medications, and their indications and contraindications.

OBJECTIVE: To update allergists and primary care physicians on new advances in HAE therapies.

DATA SOURCES: A PubMed literature search was used to develop this manuscript.

STUDY SELECTIONS: English language peer-reviewed angioedema articles were selected. High quality Phase II and III placebo-controlled clinical trials were reviewed and summarized.

RESULTS: Until 2008, therapy for HAE consisted of symptom relief with narcotics, hydration and fresh frozen plasma (FFP). Androgens and FFP are frequently used despite multiple, significant side effects. Newer therapies include C1-inhibitor–both human plasma derived and recombinant–as well as contact system modulators such as ecallantide and icatibant. All of these products can be used for treatment of acute attacks of HAE, and C1-inhibitors can also be used for prophylaxis.

CONCLUSION: New, disease-specific therapies have recently emerged which are more efficacious, are proven to work by placebo-controlled studies, have minimal adverse effects, and can be utilized for the treatment of HAE.

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