Cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events among patients receiving omalizumab: Results from EXCELS, a prospective cohort study in moderate to severe asthma

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EXCELS, a postmarketing observational cohort study, was a commitment to the US Food and Drug Administration to assess the long-term safety of omalizumab in an observational setting, focusing predominantly on malignancies.


The aim of this study was to examine a potential association between omalizumab and cardiovascular (CV)/cerebrovascular (CBV) events in EXCELS.


Patients (≥12 years of age) with moderate to severe allergic asthma and who were being treated with omalizumab (n = 5007) or not (n = 2829) at baseline were followed up for ≤5 years. Analyses included overall CV/CBV events, but focused on the subset of arterial thromboembolic events (ATEs), comprising CV death, myocardial infarction, ischemic stroke, transient ischemic attack, and unstable angina. A prespecified analysis of the end point of ATE was conducted to control for available potential confounders. A blinded independent expert panel adjudicated all events.


At baseline, the 2 cohorts had similar demographic characteristics, but severe asthma was more common in the omalizumab versus the non-omalizumab group (50% vs 23%). Omalizumab-treated patients had a higher rate of CV/CBV serious adverse events (13.4 per 1,000 person years [PYs]) than did non–omalizumab-treated patients (8.1 per 1,000 PYs). The ATE rates per 1,000 PYs were 6.66 (101 patients/15,160 PYs) in the omalizumab cohort and 4.64 (46 patients/9,904 PYs) in the non-omalizumab cohort. After control for available confounding factors, the hazard ratio was 1.32 (95% CI, 0.91–1.91).


This observational study demonstrated a higher incidence rate of CV/CBV events in the omalizumab versus the non-omalizumab cohort. Differences in asthma severity between cohorts likely contributed to this imbalance, but some increase in risk cannot be excluded.

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