News from the FDA/CDC

FDA approves rituximab to treat children with rare vasculitis


The Food and Drug Administration approved rituximab (Rituxan) by injection to treat granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) and microscopic polyangiitis (MPA) in children 2 years of age and older in combination with glucocorticoid treatment, according to an FDA news release.

A stamp saying "FDA approved." Olivier Le Moal/Getty Images

These rare forms of vasculitis damage small blood vessels through inflammation and can lead to serious organ failure, including lungs and kidneys.

The Genentech drug received priority review and an orphan drug designation based on the results of a pediatric clinical trial of 25 patients aged 6-17 years with active GPA or MPA who were treated with rituximab in an international multicenter, open-label, uncontrolled study. Patients in the trial were also given methylprednisolone prior to starting treatment.

The trial consisted of a 6-month remission induction phase where patients were treated only with rituximab and glucocorticoids. In addition, patients who had not achieved remission could receive additional treatment, including other therapies, at the discretion of the investigator, according to the FDA. By 6 months, 14 of the patients were in remission, and after 18 months, all 25 patients were in remission.

Rituximab contains a boxed warning regarding increased risks of fatal infusion reactions, potentially fatal severe skin and mouth reactions, hepatitis B virus reactivation that may cause serious or lethal liver problems, and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, a rare, potentially lethal brain infection.

The trial was conducted and sponsored by F. Hoffmann-La Roche, which owns Genentech.

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