New drug brings relief to severe asthma sufferers

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- One in 12. That's how many people, according to the Centers for Disease Control suffer from asthma. Most can control their symptoms with prescribed medication. But there is a small group of asthma sufferers - who can't. Serese Cole tells us about a new drug that's giving them back their life - and their breath.

Time outdoors is time well spent for Kim Fasse.

"I've always liked being outside," Fasse said.

There's only one thing that can keep her from it – her asthma.

"It comes on so suddenly," she described.

And severely.

"Sixty nights in a row of asthma attacks while I was in graduate school and I was just miserable," Fasse shared.

Since then, she's tried everything from inhalers to pills.

"I was on nine medications, I was on steroids for a year, and I nebulized four times a day," Fasse explained.

But nothing worked. And Kim's not alone.

"Unfortunately, a certain population of severe asthmatics weren't doing well with typical treatment," said Nebraska Medicine Allergy Specialist Dr. Sara May.

A new drug called Nucala is bringing relief.

Dr. Sara May says it's for a small, specific group of asthma sufferers.

"What we call severe eosinophilic asthma patients," she explained. "These are the people that are getting seen by their doctor frequently, or maybe going to the ER and maybe even hospitalized for their asthma."

It's a complex problem - with a simple solution.

"You get the shot once a month, you wait 30 minutes you go home," Dr. May said.

Patients still need their inhalers
But their quality of life is much better.

"I mean I've had patients who feel like their asthma is the only thing in their life that's affecting them and what they're able to do - go to being completely normal - playing with their kids - going to work," Dr. May said.

Kim was one of the first patients at Nebraska Medicine to be tested and treated with Nucala. Now there are more than 50.

"Huge difference maker for me," Kim Fasse stated.

The biggest and best difference? More time outdoors with the pets and people she loves most.

The one downside to this new drug is the cost. It is expensive. How expensive depends on your insurance. For Kim, the total cost is $8,000 a month.

But thanks to her insurance and an $11,000 dollar co-pay from Nucala, she only pays $60 per injection.