Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is characterized by unpredictable, recurring and painful swelling episodes that can be disabling or even life-threatening. Awareness of HAE has progressively grown worldwide, and options for treatment of acute attacks and prevention of future attacks continue to expand; however, unmet needs in diagnosis and treatment remain. In Japan, recognition of HAE within the medical community remains low, and numerous obstacles complicate diagnosis and access to treatment. Importance of timely treatment of HAE attacks with on-demand therapies is continually demonstrated; recommended agents per the WAO/EAACI treatment guidelines published in 2018 include C1 inhibitor (C1-INH) concentrate, ecallantide, and icatibant. In Japan, multiple factors contribute to delayed HAE treatment (potentially leading to life-threatening consequences), including difficulties in finding facilities at which C1-INH agents are readily available. Recognition of challenges faced in Japan can help promote efforts to address current needs and expand access to effective therapies. Icatibant, a potent, selective bradykinin B2 receptor antagonist, has demonstrated inhibition of various bradykinin-induced biological effects in preclinical studies and has shown efficacy in treating attacks in various clinical settings (e.g. clinical trials, real-world studies), and HAE patient populations (e.g. with C1-INH deficiency, normal C1-INH). Icatibant was approved in Japan for the treatment of HAE attacks in September 2018; its addition to the HAE treatment armamentarium contributes to improved patient care. In Japan, disease awareness and education campaigns are warranted to further advance the management of HAE patients in light of the unmet needs and the emerging availability of modern diagnostic approaches and therapies.
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