News from the FDA/CDC

FDA approves in-home breast cancer treatment

Advantageous for infusion centers?


The Food and Drug Administration approved a combination of pertuzumab (Perjeta, Genentech/Roche), trastuzumab (Herceptin, Genentech/Roche) and hyaluronidase (Phesgo, Genentech/Roche) that is administered subcutaneously – rather than intravenously – for the treatment of early and metastatic HER2-positive breast cancers.

Phesgo is initially used in combination with chemotherapy at an infusion center but could continue to be administered in a patient’s home by a qualified health care professional once chemotherapy is complete, according to the FDA.

Administration takes approximately 8 minutes for the initial loading dose and approximately 5 minutes for maintenance doses, according to a Genentech press statement. This compares favorably with the 150 minutes needed for the combined loading dose of intravenous pertuzumab and trastuzumab, and the 60-150 minutes for intravenous maintenance infusions, the company said.

“Currently, most patients with HER2-positive breast cancer receive trastuzumab and pertuzumab at infusion centers. With a new administration route, Phesgo offers an outpatient option for patients to receive trastuzumab and pertuzumab,” said Richard Pazdur, MD, director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence and acting director of the Office of Oncologic Diseases in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in an agency press release.

“The fixed-dose combination of trastuzumab and pertuzumab offers a simpler, faster, and easier treatment experience for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer,” said Antoinette Tan, MD, MHSc, chief of breast medical oncology at Levine Cancer Institute, Charlotte, N.C., in the company statement.

Dr. Tan also said that home administration “can be advantageous for patients and infusion centers.”

However, in April, the Community Oncology Alliance strenuously objected to this type of treatment in a patient’s home, as reported by Medscape Medical News.

The group, which represents U.S. community-based practices, said it “fundamentally opposes home infusion of chemotherapy, cancer immunotherapy, and cancer treatment supportive drugs because of serious patient safety concerns.”

The FDA’s approval was based on the results of the pivotal phase 3 FeDeriCa trial, a noninferiority study in patients with HER2-positive early breast cancer, which demonstrated that the new product had comparable efficacy and safety as intravenous pertuzumab and intravenous trastuzumab.

In terms of efficacy, the subcutaneous product demonstrated noninferior plasma levels of pertuzumab, which was the primary endpoint, when compared with IV administration of pertuzumab.

Safety was comparable between the two approaches, with no new safety signals using the subcutaneous delivery method, including no “meaningful difference” in cardiac toxicity, according to Genentech. However, there were more administration-related reactions with the new product. The most common adverse events in both groups were alopecia, nausea, diarrhea, and anemia.

The new product uses a drug delivery technology (Enhanze, Halozyme Therapeutics) that employs a proprietary enzyme that temporarily degrades hyaluronan, a glycosaminoglycan or chain of natural sugars in the body, to facilitate the dispersion and absorption of injected therapeutic drugs, according to Genentech.

In May, at the European Society for Medical Oncology Breast Cancer Virtual Meeting 2020, investigators of the phase 2 PHranceSCa study reported that “more than 80%” of patients preferred subcutaneous to intravenous administration of pertuzumab and trastuzumab.

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