Nemolizumab is a new medication being currently developed by Chugai Pharmaceutical Company. With the recent ground breaking FDA approval of Dupixent (dupilumab) for eczema, this will help many patients suffering itchy, inflamed dry skin. As with all new biological medication, the price tag is very high for Dupixent, $37,000. With no competitors for the treatment of eczema, the makers of Dupixent, Regeneron can justify the high price of their medication. Currently in the pipeline, nemolizumab, is an anti-IL-31 receptor antibody being studied to treat eczema. Nemolizumab is being specifically studied to treat pruritis (itching) associated with atopic dermatitis. It would be a subcutaneous injection once per month.
IL-31 is involved in a variety of other pruritic skin diseases and it has a large potential to treat itchy skin. In a recent study involving nemolizumab, patients taking the medication over placebo showed significantly less itching and improved sleep in patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. Patients noticed that the itch was gone very quickly and sometimes within days even before the eczema healed.
Even though nemolizumab is a couple of years away from being FDA approved, it is always good for patients and payers to have options for treating atopic dermatitis. Up until the recent approval of dupilumab, the only treatment available for patients with eczema have been topical medications such as steroids, calcineurin inhibitors (Elidel and Protopic) and Eucrisa. But for patients with more severe forms of eczema that is widespread, these new systemic biologics such as dupilumab and possibly nemolizumab, can be game changers for the treatment of atopic dermatitis.
The pricing of nemolizumab will depend on how Dupixent is doing at the time it is approved. Analysts suggest that Dupixent will generate 5 billion annually. Likely though nemolizumab will be priced lower than dupilumab because it won’t be first in class.
If you currently suffer from eczema, speak to your allergist or dermatologist about which current treatment option is best for you.