The Food and Drug Administration has approved dupilumab for adolescents with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis (AD) that has been inadequately controlled with topical prescription treatments “or when those therapies are not advisable.”
Dupilumab (), which inhibits interleukin-4 and interleukin-13 signaling, was initially in March 2017, for the same indication, becoming the first targeted biologic treatment for AD. The adolescent approval was by the manufacturer.
While there are several systemic medications used as second-line therapy for treatment of pediatric AD, dupilumab is the first FDA-approved biologic for treatment of the disease in adolescents aged 12-17 years,, a pediatric dermatologist at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester (MN), and current president of the Society for Pediatric Dermatology, said in an interview.
FDA approval should decrease insurance barriers and the need for prior authorization, thus increasing access to the drug, she noted, adding, “I hope it will offer a successful alternative to other advanced therapies, as the medicine works through a different mechanism of action, compared to the current systemic medications available.”
With the expanded indication to include adolescents, “patients with more moderate to severe disease who aren’t well controlled with a topical therapy are going to get treatment that will change their lives for many years to come,” dupilumab investigator, professor of dermatology at Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, said in an interview. “On the whole, patients are likely being undertreated and suffering from the disease more than they need to be,” said Dr. Simpson, “With the advent of this new therapy and the new data, it’s going to change the risk benefit calculation for providers and for patients.”
Results from a phase 3 clinical trial of dupilumab in adolescents with moderate to severe AD were presented last fall at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology Congress in Paris. In that study, the proportion of patients who achieved a 75% or greater improvement in the Eczema Area and Severity Index at 16 weeks was 38.1% with monthly dupilumab, 41.5% with dupilumab every 2 weeks, and 8.2% with placebo. Dr. Simpson, the first author of this study, presented the results at that meeting.
Dr. Simpson said that he hopes dupilumab approval for adolescents and the clinical trial results will help providers recognize when patients are not in good control of their AD, and which patients qualify for a step-up in therapy when treatments such as topical therapy or prednisone are not effective. “There are so many patients out there who qualify for a step-up in therapy,” he commented. “I hope that provides comfort to both patients and providers, that it’s OK to take the next step, because the results show us that, not only it can improve your skin rash, but it can have dramatic effects on all the downstream effects of the condition.”
These downstream effects include not only quality of life and comorbidities of mental health but also the patient’s emotional state. Hopefully, dupilumab can reduce stigmatization of AD and feelings of embarrassment for adolescents at a time in life when “socialization, education, and activity is so important in creating your kind of identity in yourself and your sense of self-worth,” Dr. Simpson said.
“It is important to remember atopic dermatitis is a disease that impacts not only the skin, but the patient as a whole,” said Dr. Davis. “It is an exciting time to be caring for atopic dermatitis patients with the various new medications coming to market.”
The FDA had granted a priority review for the adolescent indication; previously the FDA had granted Breakthrough Therapy designation for dupilumab in 2016 for the treatment of moderate to severe AD in adolescents and severe AD in children aged 6 months to 11 years who are insufficiently controlled with topical medications
The dosing for adolescents is weight based; two doses are available, 200 mg and 300 mg, administered subcutaneously, every other week after a loading dose. The updated prescribing information is available at.Dr. Simpson reports relationships with Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Davis reports no relevant financial disclosures.