Nucala (mepolizumab)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2023

Nucala (mepolizumab) is a medicine for people ages 6 and older with asthma who continue to have severe asthma attacks despite taking all of their other currently prescribed asthma medicines. It is an add-on maintenance drug, which means that it is taken regularly along with other medicines to help prevent asthma attacks.1

Nucala is also used to treat people ages 6 and older with severe eosinophilic asthma, as well as eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (a rare asthmatic condition).1

What are the ingredients in Nucala?

The active ingredient in Nucala is mepolizumab.1

How does Nucala work?

Nucala contains mepolizumab, which is a monoclonal antibody that targets interleukin-5. Interleukin-5 is a chemical messenger that triggers the release of a certain type of white blood cell (eosinophils) in the bloodstream. Eosinophils are linked to the development of asthma. By blocking the release of eosinophils, Nucala can reduce the inflammation in the airways that can trigger an asthma attack.1

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of Nucala include:1

  • Headache
  • Injection site reactions like pain, redness, swelling, itching, or burning feeling
  • Back pain
  • Tiredness (fatigue)

These are not all the possible side effects of Nucala. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking Nucala. You also should call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking Nucala.

Other things to know

A small number of people treated with Nucala develop shingles due to an infection called Herpes Zoster. Your doctor may recommend getting the shingles vaccine before starting treatment with Nucala.1

Before starting treatment with Nucala, tell your doctor if you:1

  • Are allergic to mepolizumab or any of the ingredients in Nucala.
  • Have a parasitic (helminth) infection.
  • Are taking oral or inhaled corticosteroid medicines. Do not stop taking your corticosteroid medicines unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. There is not enough data to know if Nucala may harm an unborn baby.
  • Are breastfeeding. You should not take Nucala and breastfeed.

Before beginning treatment for asthma, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Nucala.

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