Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) and Sanofi announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of Kevzara (sarilumab) for the treatment of adult patients with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who have had an inadequate response or intolerance to one or more disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), such as methotrexate (MTX). Kevzara is a human monoclonal antibody that binds to the interleukin-6 receptor (IL-6R), and has been shown to inhibit IL-6R mediated signaling. IL-6 is a cytokine in the body that, in excess and over time, can contribute to the inflammation associated with RA.
“In the clinical trial program, sarilumab demonstrated statistically significant, clinically-meaningful improvements in adult patients with rheumatoid arthritis by reducing signs and symptoms and improving physical function, resulting in significantly less radiographic progression of structural damage of RA,” said Alan Kivitz, M.D., CPI, Founder and Medical Director of the Altoona Center for Clinical Research and Altoona Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center, and an investigator in the global SARIL-RA clinical program for sarilumab. “This is important because not all currently available treatments work in all patients, and some patients may spend years cycling through different treatments without achieving their treatment goals. Sarilumab works differently from the most commonly used biologics, such as those in the anti-TNF class, and is a welcome new option for patients and their physicians.”
RA is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease, which carries substantial burden. In RA, the immune system attacks the tissues of the joints, causing inflammation, pain, and eventually joint damage and disability. RA affects approximately 1.3 million Americans, with nearly 75 percent being women. It most often strikes people between 30 and 60 years old; however, it can occur in adults at any age.
“Despite the many advances made in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, patients continue to need new treatment options,” said Olivier Brandicourt, M.D., Chief Executive Officer, Sanofi. “Today’s approval in the U.S. not only underscores our ongoing commitment to making a difference in the lives of patients, but also demonstrates our drive to accelerate science and medicine in immunology.”
“Today’s milestone with Kevzara, which follows closely on the heels of our recent approval of Dupixent (dupilumab), showcases the ability of our internal discovery and science engine to deliver important new medicines by leveraging our leading technologies, such as VelocImmune,” said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., Founding Scientist, President, and Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron. “This milestone would not have been possible without our important ongoing collaboration with Sanofi, and most importantly, the patients and physicians who participated in our SARIL-RA clinical program, and worked with us to make Kevzara available to those in the U.S. RA community in need of new options.”
Kevzara may be used as monotherapy or in combination with MTX or other conventional DMARDs. The recommended dosage of Kevzara is 200 mg once every two weeks given as a subcutaneous injection, which can be self-administered. The dosage can be reduced from 200 mg to 150 mg once every two weeks, as needed, to help manage certain laboratory abnormalities (neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and liver enzyme elevations).
The approval of Kevzara was based on data from approximately 2,900 adults with moderately to severely active RA who had an inadequate response to previous treatment regimens. In two pivotal Phase 3 clinical trials, Kevzara plus background DMARDs demonstrated statistically significant, clinically-meaningful improvements in patients with moderately to severely active RA.
In the MOBILITY study, treatment with Kevzara plus MTX reduced signs and symptoms, improved physical function, and demonstrated significantly less radiographic progression of structural damage, compared to placebo plus MTX.
- At 24 weeks, patients treated with Kevzara plus MTX achieved a greater improvement in the primary endpoint of signs and symptoms as measured by the proportion of patients achieving a 20 percent improvement in the American College of Rheumatology Criteria (ACR20) (Kevzara 200 mg, 66 percent; Kevzara 150 mg, 58 percent; placebo, 33 percent)
- At 52 weeks, patients treated with Kevzara plus MTX demonstrated significantly less radiographic progression of structural damage as measured by the change in modified Total Sharp Score, a key endpoint of the study (placebo, 2.78; Kevzara 200 mg, 0.25; Kevzara 150 mg, 0.90)
- At 16 weeks, patients treated with Kevzara plus MTX demonstrated greater improvement from baseline in physical function as measured by the Health Assessment Questionnaire – Disability Index (HAQ-DI), a key endpoint of the study (Kevzara 200 mg, -0.58; Kevzara 150 mg, -0.54; placebo, -0.30)
In the TARGET study, treatment with Kevzara plus DMARD reduced signs and symptoms and improved physical function, compared to placebo plus DMARD.
- At 24 weeks, patients treated with Kevzara plus DMARD achieved a greater improvement in the primary endpoint of signs and symptoms as measured by the proportion of patients achieving an ACR20 response (Kevzara 200 mg, 61 percent; Kevzara 150 mg, 56 percent; placebo, 34 percent)
- At 12 weeks, patients treated with Kevzara plus DMARD demonstrated greater improvement from baseline in physical function as measured by HAQ-DI, a key endpoint of the study (Kevzara 200 mg, -0.49; Kevzara 150 mg, -0.50; placebo, -0.29)
Patients treated with Kevzara are at increased risk of developing serious infections that may lead to hospitalization or death. The most common adverse reactions (occurring in at least 3 percent of patients treated with Kevzara in combination with DMARDs vs. placebo in combination with DMARDs) observed with Kevzara in the clinical studies were neutropenia (7-10 percent vs. 0.2 percent), increased alanine aminotransferase (5 percent vs. 2 percent), injection site erythema (4-5 percent vs. 0.9 percent), upper respiratory infections (3-4 percent vs. 2 percent) and urinary tract infections (3 percent vs. 2 percent).
Sanofi and Regeneron are committed to helping patients in the U.S. who are prescribed Kevzara gain access to the medicine and receive the support they may need. The companies have launched KevzaraConnect, a comprehensive and specialized program that provides support services to patients throughout every step of the treatment process. KevzaraConnect will also help eligible patients who are uninsured, lack coverage, or need assistance with their out-of-pocket copay costs. Additionally, KevzaraConnect offers personalized support from registered nurses and other specialists who are available 24/7 to speak with patients and help them navigate the complex insurance process. For more information, please call 1-844-Kevzara (1-844-538-9272) or visit www.Kevzara.com.
The U.S. Wholesale Acquisition Cost (WAC) of Kevzara is $39,000/year for the 200 mg and 150 mg doses, and is approximately 30 percent lower than the WAC for the two most widely used TNF-alpha inhibitors. Actual costs to patients, payers and health systems are anticipated to be lower as WAC does not reflect discounts, rebates or copay support.
In the U.S., Kevzara will be marketed by Regeneron and Sanofi Genzyme, the specialty care global business unit of Sanofi. Kevzara was approved in Canada in January 2017. In April 2017, the European Medicine Agency’s (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) adopted a positive opinion for the marketing authorization of Kevzara recommending its approval for use in adult patients with moderately to severely active RA. A final decision on the Marketing Authorization Application (MAA) for Kevzara in the European Union will be made by the European Commission in the coming months. The companies are also seeking approvals in a number of other countries globally.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery