News from the FDA/CDC

FDA approves Mavenclad for treatment of relapsing MS


The Food and Drug Administration has approved cladribine (Mavenclad) tablets to treat adult patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), including relapsing/remitting and active secondary progressive disease.

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The drug’s manufacturer, EMD Serono, said in a press release that cladribine is the first short-course oral therapy for such patients, and its use is generally recommended for patients who have had an inadequate response to, or are unable to tolerate, an alternate drug indicated for the treatment of MS. Cladribine is not recommended for use in patients with clinically isolated syndrome.

The agency’s decision is based on results from a clinical trial of 1,326 patients with relapsing MS who had experienced at least one relapse in the previous 12 months. Patients who received cladribine had significantly fewer relapses than did those who received placebo; the progression of disability was also significantly reduced in the cladribine group, compared with placebo, according to the FDA’s announcement.

The most common adverse events associated with cladribine include upper respiratory tract infections, headache, and decreased lymphocyte counts. In addition, the medication must be dispensed with a patient medication guide because the label includes a boxed warning for increased risk of malignancy and fetal harm. Other warnings include a risk for decreased lymphocyte count, hematologic toxicity and bone marrow suppression, and graft-versus-host-disease.

“We are committed to supporting the development of safe and effective treatments for patients with multiple sclerosis. The approval of Mavenclad represents an additional option for patients who have tried another treatment without success,” Billy Dunn, MD, director of the division of neurology products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in the announcement.

The approved dose of cladribine is 3.5 mg/kg body weight over 2 years, administered as one treatment course of 1.75 mg/kg per year, each consisting of 2 treatment weeks. Additional courses of cladribine are not to be administered because retreatment with cladribine during years 3 and 4 may further increase the risk of malignancy. The safety and efficacy of reinitiating cladribine more than 2 years after completing two treatment courses has not been studied, according to EMD Serono.

Cladribine is approved in more than 50 other countries and was approved for use in the European Union in August 2017.

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