Asthma sufferer hails new ‘life in a box’ drug

Rebecca Hodkinson with her daughter Danni and mother Christine
Rebecca Hodkinson with her daughter Danni and mother Christine

A BUXTON mother suffering from severe asthma is looking to the New Year with renewed hope thanks to a new wonder drug which she has hailed as “life in a box”.

Rebecca Hodkinson has suffered from persistent allergic asthma from an early age, having a debilitating effect on her way of life and forcing her to take steroids and use a nebuliser in an effort to manage the chronic condition.

Her low immune system also left her vulnerable to infections. She has twice been struck down with pneumonia, and much of her life has been spent in and out of hospital, at times isolating her from her family and friends.

Faced with the possibility of a lung transplant, Rebecca agreed to participate in a UK trial of a new drug, the asthma therapy Omalizumab (Xolair), and after six months has been astounded by the results, the treatment delivering significant benefits in terms of her quality of life and reducing the time she has to stay in hospital.

“The drug has really improved my quality of life,” the 34-year-old explained.

“I’ve been able to come off the steroids and I haven’t even needed to touch my nebuliser. I can run, I can dance, I can walk fast and go up big hills.

“I can also be the top soprano I have always wanted to be,” said Rebecca, who despite her condition enjoys singing, and is a regular performer at care homes, carol concerts and at her local Methodist Church.

Omalizumab is a treatment prescribed for patients over the age of six who have severe, persistent and uncontrollable allergic asthma caused by allergens in the air. It can help prevent allergic reactions and asthma attacks.

“Basically, the doctors explain how Xolair acts like a big sponge to soak up all the allergens that attack your body. It really is quite a remarkable drug,” Rebecca said.

Now, after a successful six-month trial, Rebecca has been awarded a grant to cover the long-term cost of the medication, which is administered every two weeks by an injection into her arm. The simple procedure is carried out at the North West Lung Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital.

The welcome news has made for a very happy Christmas in the Hodkinson household, especially for her supportive parents and 16-year-old daughter Danni.

“I feel that I’ve got my life back,” Rebecca added. “This drug works. It is such a life-changing experience. Hopefully it will be there for other people as well.

“I want to show sufferers with really brittle asthma that they don’t have to go on steroids for life. There’s now a drug that can effectively save your life. More people should be asking their doctors about it.

“It’s life in a box, and I am so grateful they have let me have it.”