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Fingolimod reduced disease activity more than glatiramer acetate in RRMS: ASSESS study results



Fingolimod at a 0.5-mg dose had superior efficacy compared with glatiramer acetate in reducing disease activity in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), according to results from a phase 3b study reported at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. The optimal efficacious dose of fingolimod was 0.5 mg once daily, according to the results of the ASSESS study, which also evaluated a 0.25-mg daily dose of fingolimod versus a 20-mg daily dose of glatiramer acetate.

Adverse events seen with fingolimod were consistent with the established safety profile of the immunomodulatory drug, according to investigator Bruce Cree, MD, PhD, of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, department of neurology, University of California, San Francisco.

“I believe this is the first study to go head to head versus glatiramer acetate to show superiority,” Dr. Cree said in a podium presentation of the results.

While fingolimod 0.5 mg has shown superior efficacy over placebo and interferon beta-1a in previous phase 3 trials, head-to-head comparisons versus disease-modifying therapies can help inform treatment decisions in clinical practice, Dr. Cree and coinvestigators noted in the abstract that describes their results.

The randomized, three-armed, phase 3b ASSESS study included 12 months of dose-blinded treatment and 3 months of follow-up. Investigators enrolled 1,054 patients with relapsing-remitting MS, of whom about 74% were women and the average age was 40 years, Dr. Cree said in his presentation.

Annualized relapse rate, the primary endpoint of the study, was 0.153 for the fingolimod 0.5-mg arm, versus 0.258 for the glatiramer acetate 20-mg arm, for a 40.7% relative reduction (P = .013), Dr. Cree reported. By contrast, he said, the annualized relapse rate within the fingolimod 0.25-mg arm was 0.221, which was not statistically different versus glatiramer acetate.

The fingolimod 0.5-mg arm was also superior to glatiramer acetate on a number of radiographic endpoints at month 12, including new or newly enlarged T2 lesion count, change in T2 lesion volume, gadolinium-positive T1 lesion count, and gadolinium-positive T1 lesion volume, Dr. Cree said.

Adverse events and serious adverse events were “much as expected” in all three study groups, Dr. Cree said.

The observed safety with fingolimod was consistent with previously available data on fingolimod 0.5 mg, and the safety profile of the lower 0.25-mg dose seemed to be comparable with the 0.5-mg dose, according to his presentation.

Adverse events with fingolimod were “largely laboratory abnormalities,” that occurred more frequently in the fingolimod arms, he said. Although there was an apparent dose-dependent effect between the 0.25-mg and 0.5-mg doses, the overall proportion of patients experiencing low white blood cell counts or elevations in liver enzymes was low, he added.

Bradycardia was “infrequent” in both fingolimod groups in first-dose observations, though it did again occur with a dose-dependent effect, Dr. Cree said.

He reported bradycardia in two patients (0.5%) in the fingolimod 0.25-mg group and four (1.2%) in the fingolimod 0.5-mg group, while the number of patients requiring overnight hospitalizations was one (0.3%) and five (1.5%) in the 0.25- and 0.5-mg groups, respectively.

Hepatic enzyme abnormalities were the leading reason for discontinuation of fingolimod, while in contrast, drug hypersensitivity and injection site reactions led to discontinuations in the glatiramer acetate arm, he added.

Novartis sponsored the study. Dr. Cree provided disclosures related to Abbvie, Akili, Biogen, EMD Serono, GeNeuro and Novartis.

SOURCE: Cree B et al. AAN 2019, Abstract 56.009.

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