People with troublesome nasal polyps and chronic sinusitis have a new option for relief. In June 2018, the FDA approved dupilumab (Dupixent), the first treatment for resistant nasal polyps and sinusitis. Nasal polyps, which are benign growths in the nasal cavities, affect about 20% of people with chronic sinusitis. Polyps can increase drainage and congestion, cause pain, and diminish smell. Until now, the only ways to try to shrink polyps have been the long-term use of corticosteroid nasal sprays, a short-term course of oral steroids, sinus irrigation, antibiotics, or surgery to remove them. But those methods don't work for everyone, and surgery doesn't keep polyps from recurring. Dupilumab is an injectable drug that blocks the immune system from overreacting and causing inflammation. "The polyps just seem to melt away. I usually recommend it for patients whose polyps come back after surgery, who can't have surgery for other reasons, or who have bad asthma," says Dr. Alice Maxfield, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dupilumab does have potential side effects, including serious allergic reactions or eye problems (such as conjunctivitis). The drug is extremely expensive, about $37,000 per year. However, Medicare covers most costs.
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