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First Anti-CGRP Monoclonal Antibody Gains FDA Approval

The FDA approved Aimovig (erenumab-aooe) for the preventive treatment of migraine in adults. Aimovig is the first FDA-approved preventive migraine treatment in a new class of drugs that blocks the activity of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). The treatment is given by once-monthly self-injections. Aimovig’s effectiveness was evaluated in three placebo-controlled clinical trials. The first included 955 patients with episodic migraine. Over six months, treated patients had, on average, one to two fewer monthly migraine days than controls. The second study included 577 patients with episodic migraine. Over three months, treated patients had, on average, one fewer migraine day per month than controls. The third study evaluated 667 patients with chronic migraine. Over three months, treated patients had, on average, 2.5 fewer monthly migraine days than controls. Aimovig is marketed by Amgen.

FDA Approves Gilenya for Pediatric Use

The FDA has approved Gilenya (fingolimod) for the treatment of children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 18 with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), making it the first disease-modifying therapy indicated for these young patients. The approval extends the age range for the drug, which was previously approved for patients age 18 and older with relapsing MS. Gilenya was granted Breakthrough Therapy status in December 2017 for this pediatric indication. The approval was supported by PARADIGMS, a double-blind, randomized, multicenter phase III safety and efficacy study of Gilenya versus interferon beta-1a. In this study, oral Gilenya reduced the annualized relapse rate by approximately 82% for as long as two years, compared with interferon beta-1a intramuscular injections in adolescents with relapsing MS. Gilenya is marketed by Novartis.

FDA Approves Treatment for CIDP

The FDA has approved Hizentra (immune globulin subcutaneous [human] 20% liquid) as the first subcutaneous immunoglobulin (SCIg) for the treatment of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) as maintenance therapy to prevent relapse of neuromuscular disability and impairment. The approval was based on the phase III PATH study, which was the largest controlled clinical study of patients with CIDP to date. The percentage of patients experiencing CIDP relapse or withdrawal for any other reason during SCIg treatment was significantly lower with Hizentra (38.6% on low-dose Hizentra [0.2 g/kg weekly], 32.8% on high-dose Hizentra [0.4 g/kg weekly]) than with placebo (63.2%). Treated patients reported fewer systemic adverse reactions per infusion, compared with IVIg treatment (2.7% vs 9.8%, respectively). Approximately 93% of infusions caused no adverse reactions. Hizentra is marketed by CSL Behring.

DBS Device Approved for Refractory Epilepsy

The FDA granted premarket approval for Medtronic’s deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy as adjunctive treatment for reducing the frequency of partial-onset seizures in patients age 18 or older who are refractory to three or more antiepileptic drugs. The approval is based on the blinded phase and seven-year follow-up data from the SANTE trial, which included 110 patients. The median total seizure frequency reduction from baseline was 40.4% in implanted patients versus 14.5% for the placebo group at three months and 75% at seven years with ongoing open-label therapy. Twenty subjects (18%) had at least one six-month seizure-free period between implant and year seven, including eight subjects (7%) who were seizure-free for the preceding two years. Seizure severity and quality-of-life scales showed statistically significant improvement from baseline to year seven. No significant cognitive declines or worsening of depression were noted.

FDA Issues Warning About Lamictal

The FDA recently warned that Lamictal (lamotrigine), frequently used for treating seizures and bipolar disorder, can cause a rare but serious immune system reaction called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), which can be life-threatening. HLH typically presents as a persistent fever, usually greater than 101° F, and can lead to severe problems with blood cells and vital organs. Health care professionals should be aware that prompt recognition and early treatment are important for improving HLH outcomes and decreasing mortality. Diagnosis is often complicated because early signs and symptoms, such as rash and fever, are not specific. HLH also may be confused with other serious immune-related adverse reactions such as drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS). The FDA is requiring a change to the drug’s prescribing information and drug labeling.

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