FDA approves nintedanib for scleroderma interstitial lung disease


The Food and Drug Administration has approved nintedanib (Ofev) for the rare but sometimes deadly form of interstitial lung disease that’s caused by systemic sclerosis, or scleroderma.

A stamp saying "FDA approved." Olivier Le Moal/Getty Images

Although scleroderma itself is rare, half of those patients present with scleroderma-related interstitial lung disease (SSc-ILD), and it remains the leading cause of death in scleroderma patients because it can lead to loss of pulmonary function. Nintedanib appears to slow the progress of SSc-ILD and is the first treatment approved for it, according to a news release from the FDA.

The approval is based on a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 576 patients aged 20-79 years with SSc-ILD. The primary efficacy endpoint was forced vital capacity, and patients on nintedanib showed less decline than did those on placebo.

The most frequent serious adverse event reported in this trial was pneumonia (2.8% with nintedanib vs. 0.3% with placebo). Adverse reactions that led to permanent dose reductions occurred in 34% of nintedanib patients and 4% of placebo-treated patients; the most common of these was diarrhea.

The full prescribing information, which is available on the FDA website, includes warnings for patients with moderate to severe hepatic impairment, elevated liver enzymes, and drug-induced liver injury, as well as those with gastrointestinal disorders. Nintedanib may cause embryo-fetal toxicity, so women of childbearing age should be counseled to avoid pregnancy while taking this drug.

Nintedanib received both Priority Review and Orphan Drug designation. The former meant the FDA intends to take action on the application within 6 months because the agency has determined that, if approved, it would have important effects on treatment of a serious condition. The latter provides incentives to assist and encourage development of drugs for rare diseases. The drug was approved in 2014 for adult patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, another interstitial lung disease.

The full release is available on the FDA website.

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