With type 1 diabetes delay possible, focus now on screening


The recent approval of teplizumab-mzwv (Tzield, Provention Bio) for the delay of type 1 diabetes by the Food and Drug Administration is expected to advance efforts to increase screening to cost effectively identify those at risk for the condition who would be eligible to receive the new treatment.

The anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody was approved Nov. 17 as the first disease-modifying therapy for impeding progression of type 1 diabetes. In a clinical trial, teplizumab delayed the onset of clinical (stage 3) type 1 diabetes by approximately 2 years, and longer in some cases.

It is administered by intravenous infusion once daily for 14 consecutive days and is expected to cost in the region of $200,000 for the course of treatment.

The specific indication is “to delay the onset of stage 3 type 1 diabetes in adults and pediatric patients 8 years and older who currently have stage 2 type 1 diabetes.” In stage 2 type 1 diabetes, the individual has two or more islet autoantibodies and abnormal glycemia but is as yet asymptomatic. It is associated with a nearly 100% lifetime risk of progression to clinical (stage 3) type 1 diabetes and a 75% risk of developing the condition within 5 years.

Currently, most people who are screened for type 1 diabetes autoantibodies are first-degree relatives of those with the condition through TrialNet, other local programs, or more recently, a $55 test offered by the research and advocacy organization JDRF.

But because 85%-90% of people who develop type 1 diabetes don’t have first-degree relatives with the condition, broader population screening will be necessary to identify eligible candidates for teplizumab.

During an investor call on Nov. 18, Provention Bio chief commercial officer Jason Hoitt said that among the company’s “strategic initiatives” were “advancing awareness and screening for autoantibodies in at-risk individuals, and ultimately, routine screening during pediatric well visits for the general population,” as well as “[health care provider] belief in teplizumab and desire to prescribe it for their patients.”

Without broad population-based screening, first-degree relatives of people with type 1 diabetes are likely to be the first to be screened and those with stage 2 identified for receipt of teplizumab. Today, that population is estimated at about 30,000 in the United States, Mr. Hoitt said, adding, “with this approval we hope that more stage 2 patients can be readily identified so the course of the disease can be changed.”

During the call, Mr. Hoitt also announced that the wholesale acquisition cost of Tzield would be $13,850 per vial, which translates to $193,900 per 14-vial continuous regimen, anticipated to be a sufficient dose for most patients. The company also launched a program called COMPASS to help patients navigate insurance reimbursement, as well as provide some with financial assistance.

Cost aside, JDRF CEO Aaron Kowalski, PhD, said in an interview that clinicians shouldn’t doubt the value of delaying type 1 diabetes onset, even if not completely preventing it. “This is the first drug ever to treat the underlying disease. There is this undercurrent that insulin is enough. Why would you undertake an additional risk of an immunotherapy? Type 1 is hard to live with. I think sometimes the clinical community doesn’t appreciate that insulin is not enough. It’s very difficult, and opening this door is important. ... We believe very strongly that the delay of onset of type 1 diabetes is clinically meaningful. We hear that from every family we’ve talked to. Clinicians should appreciate this and not discount it.”


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