FDA approves treatment for patients with a type of inflammatory arthritis

FDAThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) injection for treatment of adults with a certain type of inflammatory arthritis called non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA), with objective signs of inflammation. This is the first time that the FDA has approved a treatment for nr-axSpA.

"Today's approval of Cimzia fulfills an unmet need for patients suffering from non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis as there has been no FDA-approved treatments until now," said Nikolay Nikolov, M.D., associate director for rheumatology of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Rheumatology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Nr-axSpA is a type of inflammatory arthritis that causes inflammation in the spine and other symptoms. There is no visible damage seen on x-rays, so it is referred to as non-radiographic.

The efficacy of Cimzia for the treatment of nr-axSpA was studied in a randomized clinical trial in 317 adult patients with nr-axSpA with objective signs of inflammation, indicated by elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and/or sacroiliitis (inflammation of the sacroiliac joints) on MRI. The trial measured the improvement response on the Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Score, a composite scoring system that assesses disease activity including patient-reported outcomes and CRP levels. Responses were greater for patients treated with Cimzia compared to patients treated with placebo. The overall safety profile observed in the Cimzia treatment group was consistent with the known safety profile of Cimzia.

The prescribing information for Cimzia includes a Boxed Warning to advise health care professionals and patients about the increased risk of serious infections leading to hospitalization or death including tuberculosis (TB), bacterial sepsis (infection in the blood steam), invasive fungal infections (such as histoplasmosis, an infection that affects the lungs), and other infections. Cimzia should be discontinued if a patient develops a serious infection or sepsis. Health care providers are advised to perform testing for latent TB and, if positive, to start treatment for TB prior to starting Cimzia. All patients should be monitored for active TB during treatment, even if the initial latent TB test is negative. The Boxed Warning also advises that lymphoma (cancer in blood cells) and other malignancies, some fatal, have been reported in children and adolescent patients treated with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers, of which Cimzia is a member. Cimzia is not indicated for use in pediatric patients. Cimzia must be dispensed with a patient Medication Guide that describes important information about the drug’s uses and risks.

Cimzia was originally approved in 2008 and is also indicated for adult patients with Crohn’s disease, moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis, active ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis who are candidates for systemic therapy or phototherapy.

The FDA granted the approval of Cimzia to UCB.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

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