The People's Perspective on Medicine

Is Dupixent a Super Solution for Bad Eczema?

One reader is delighted with the way Dupixent (dupilumab) controls symptoms of eczema. This injection is pricey, however, and also has side effects.

Most people with eczema find it intensely frustrating. They itch, and their skin is often red with swollen patches. Medications may help soothe the irritation, but most patients don’t know why they suffer. Moreover, they can’t find a cure. Could a new drug called dupilumab (Dupixent) offer a solution?

Will Dupixent Vanquish Long-Standing Eczema?

Q. A reader recently asked about eczema, lamenting that there is no cure. I suffered from eczema for over four decades, but last year my dermatologist suggested that I try a new drug called Dupixent. Within a week, it had completely cleared my eczema, and I’ve had no recurrence since then.

On the downside, the list price of the drug is hideously high. (I pay nothing thanks to my medical insurance and a discount from the drug maker.) I give myself an injection every 14 days. Readers with eczema who have good medical coverage and who aren’t afraid of needles might want to ask their doctors about this option. It’s changed my life for the better.

Who Could Benefit from This New Drug?

A. Dupixent is one of the newest treatments for atopic dermatitis. That’s the medical term for eczema, which may be an expression of an overactive immune system. The FDA approved this immune-modifying medication two years ago for people whose condition has not responded to standard treatments. Specifically, although children often have eczema, Dupixent is approved only for adults. About half of the volunteers in the clinical trials on this drug found that it reduced their symptoms by at least 75 percent.

What Does It Cost?

You are right that the price is breathtaking. Someone without good insurance might have to pay over $3,000 a month. That’s for two injections.

Does Dupixent Have Side Effects?

Side effects include reactions at the site of the injection and conjunctivitis. Keratitis, or inflammation of the cornea, is an uncommon but potentially dangerous reaction to dupilumab. Because it suppresses certain aspects of the immune system, some people may experience cold sores or other herpes infections. In addition, some people using this injectable medicine eventually develop antibodies to it and cannot continue to utilize it.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I just started this drug yesterday, but for my severe asthma.

Dupixent is a miracle drug. My dermatologist tried many remedies before prescribing this as a last resort; I tried many homeopathic remedies without relief, and thought I was going to lose my mind. The itching was making me irritable, sleepless and depressed…..I don’t know what I would do without it now. I have had no side effects that I can tell….I was afraid to give myself injections at first, but now it’s a piece of cake….the relief is incredible….

I find this advice frustrating. My husband has eczema and has not found anything to help. We do not have good insurance. $3,000 per month is out of the question. This leads me to our forever debate about medical care in the US. It is unaffordable and our insurance companies should not even be paying $3,000 per month for two injections. This is absurdly unaffordable.

When I was 19 I developed horrible eczema on my fingers. I used many expensive treatments recommended by doctors. It would improve, but always came back. After about 3 yrs of this, a woman told me she had the same problem until a pharmacist told her to use Geritol. This was before mega vitamins. It contained iron, B vitamins, C and E. I took 1 pill that afternoon, and the next morning my fingers, that had been raw and bleeding the day before, were healed so much that it seemed a miracle. Within days my fingers were completely healed. If I stopped taking these vitamins for a few days, the eczema started coming back. I continue to take these and other vitamins and 50 plus years later have never had eczema again.

There was a study of farm cows in New Zealand and the consistency of zinc levels in their farm feed, because it was being used to control facial eczema on the cows. I found it in Pubmed. I wonder if zinc deficiency is a biomarker for human eczema and whether doctors ever monitor it in dermatology practices, or would a person have to go to a clinical nutritionist to get tested for something like that? So much medical information has historically come from agriculture scientists that it may be an important clue. I suppose one could check food nutrition data lists to see if there are some foods higher in zinc than others, if zinc helps humans cope with eczema.

They can keep it!
$3,000 and Side Effects a person can do without.
I read your article looking for help for a friend.

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