FDA Approves First Drug for EGPA

Dec 12, 2017
By BioPharm International Editors

On Dec. 12, 2017, FDA expanded approval of Nucala (mepolizumab) to treat adult patients with eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA), a rare autoimmune disease that causes vasculitis, an inflammation in the wall of blood vessels of the body. This new indication is the first agency-approved therapy specifically to treat EGPA, and has been granted priority review and orphan drug designations.

“Prior to today’s action, patients with this challenging, rare disease did not have an FDA-approved treatment option,” said Badrul Chowdhury, MD, PhD, director of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Rheumatology Products in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in an agency press release. “The expanded indication of Nucala meets a critical, unmet need for EGPA patients. It’s notable that patients taking Nucala in clinical trials reported a significant improvement in their symptoms.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, EGPA (formerly known as Churg-Strauss syndrome) is characterized by asthma, high levels of eosinophils (a type of white blood cell that helps fight infection), and inflammation of small- to medium-sized blood vessels. The inflamed vessels can affect various organ systems, including the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, skin, heart, and nervous system.

Nucala is an interleukin-5 antagonist monoclonal antibody (IgG1 kappa) produced by recombinant DNA technology in Chinese hamster ovary cells. Nucala is administered once every four weeks by subcutaneous injection by a healthcare professional into the upper arm, thigh, or abdomen. The drug was previously approved in 2015 to treat patients age 12 years and older with a specific subgroup of asthma (severe asthma with an eosinophilic phenotype) despite receiving their current asthma medicines.

FDA has granted approval of Nucala to GlaxoSmithKline.

Source: FDA

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