Medical Technology

FDA Approves First-in-Class Drug for Severe Asthma

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved tezepelumab-ekko (Tezspire) as a first in class treatment for severe asthma in adults and pediatric patients ages 12 years and older. It is not recommended for the relief of acute bronchospasm or status asthmaticus.

Tezepelumab-ekko is a human monoclonal antibody that acts as a thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) blocker. TSLP is an epithelial-cell–derived cytokine implicated in the pathogenesis of asthma. Tezepelumab-ekko is administered by subcutaneous injection at a recommended dosage of 210 mg given once every 4 weeks.

“Tezspire represents a much-needed new treatment for the many patients who remain underserved and continue to struggle with severe, uncontrolled asthma,” said Professor Andrew Menzies-Gow, director of the Lung Division, Royal Brompton Hospital, London, UK, and the principal investigator of the pivotal NAVIGATOR trial, in a December 17 Amgen press release.

Trial Results

The early approval of the treatment was based on the results of various clinical trials, primarily the NAVIGATOR Phase 3 trial, results of which were published in the  New England Journal of Medicine  in May.

In the NAVIGATOR trial (NCT03347279), a total of 1061 patients were randomly assigned to receive tezepelumab (529 patients) or placebo (532 patients).

With tezepelumab, the annualized rate of asthma exacerbations was 0.93; with placebo, the rate was 2.10 (P < .001).

“Patients with severe, uncontrolled asthma who received tezepelumab had fewer exacerbations and better lung function, asthma control, and health-related quality of life than those who received placebo,” according to the report of NAVIGATOR trial, which was funded by AstraZeneca and Amgen.

Tezepelumab Details

The full prescribing information for tezepelumab-ekko is available including specific warnings and areas of concern where information is not available. The drug should not be administered to individuals with known hypersensitivity to tezepelumab-ekko or excipients, and hypersensitivity reactions (eg, rash and allergic conjunctivitis), can occur within hours of administration, but in some instances have a delayed onset (i.e., days).

The drug should not be used to treat acute asthma symptoms, acute exacerbations, acute bronchospasm, or status asthmaticus, and the use of live attenuated vaccines in patients receiving tezepelumab-ekko should be avoided.

There is no available data regarding the use of tezepelumab-ekko in patients who are pregnant, although placental transfer of monoclonal antibodies such as tezepelumab-ekko is greater during the third trimester of pregnancy; therefore, potential effects on a fetus are likely to be greater during the third trimester of pregnancy, according to the company release.

The most common adverse reactions for the drug, with a reported incidence of at least 3%, are pharyngitis, arthralgia, and back pain.

“The approval of Tezspire is long-awaited positive news for the asthma community,” said Tonya Winders, president and chief executive officer at the Allergy & Asthma Network (AAN) and president of the Global Allergy and Airways Patient Platform (GAAPP) in the Amgen press release. “For the first time, many people living with severe asthma have the opportunity to receive treatment regardless of the cause of their inflammation.”

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