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Audience: Pediatricians, cardiology, pulmonology healthcare professionals

[07/16/2009] FDA is evaluating interim safety findings from an ongoing study of Xolair (omalizumab) titled Evaluating the Clinical Effectiveness and Long-Term Safety in Patients with Moderate to Severe Asthma (EXCELS) that suggests a disproportionate increase in ischemic heart disease, arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy and cardiac failure, pulmonary hypertension, cerebrovascular disorders, and embolic, thrombotic and thrombophlebitic events in patients treated with Xolair compared to the control group of patients not given the drug.  Xolair is approved for use by adults and adolescents (12 years of age and above) with moderate to severe persistent asthma who test positive for reactivity to a perennial airborne allergen, and whose symptoms are inadequately controlled with inhaled corticosteroids.

FDA is not recommending any changes to the prescribing information for Xolair and is not advising patients to stop taking Xolair at this time. Until the evaluation of the EXCELS study is completed, healthcare providers and patients should be aware of the risks and benefits described in the prescribing information, as well as the new information from the ongoing EXCELS study that may suggest a risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular adverse events.

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