News from the FDA/CDC

FDA approves Nucala’s new at-home formulations


The Food and Drug Administration has approved two new formulations for the anti–interleukin-5 biologic mepolizumab (Nucala) for treatment of certain severe or rare forms of asthma, according to a press release from the drug’s developer. The biologic will now be available as an autoinjector and as a prefilled safety syringe.

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The 100-mg subcutaneous mepolizumab injection is indicated as an add-on treatment for patients 12 years and older with severe eosinophilic asthma, and the three-dose 100-mg subcutaneous injections are indicated for the rare eosinophilic granulomatosis and polyangiitis, with the biologic administered every 4 weeks in either context. The release emphasizes that mepolizumab is not approved for acute bronchospasm or status asthmaticus. Health care professionals should first determine whether self-assisted administration or administration provided by a caregiver is appropriate, and then they should provide patients and/or caregivers with proper training in how to do so.

The approval is based on two open-label, single-arm, phase 3a studies that demonstrated successful administration was possible with these options among patients with severe eosinophilic asthma, at rates of 89%-95% in one study and 100% in the other. These results were followed by those of an open-label, parallel group, single-dose study that confirmed the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles of these new means of administration were comparable with those currently approved.

Mepolizumab is not indicated for those with a history of hypersensitivity to either mepolizumab or to the formulation’s excipients, such as anaphylaxis, angioedema, bronchospasm, hypotension, urticaria, or rash. Any reductions of inhaled corticosteroids after initiation of mepolizumab should be gradual and under the supervision of a health care professional. Some infections by herpes zoster have been observed. The most common adverse reactions (occurring in 3% or more of patients and more often than with placebo) during the first 24 weeks of treatment were headache (19%), injection site reaction (8%), back pain (5%), fatigue (5%), influenza (3%), urinary tract infection (3%), abdominal pain upper (3%), pruritus (3%), eczema (3%), and muscle spasm (3%). Full prescribing information can be found on the FDA website.

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