Genentech’s Actemra Becomes the First Biologic Therapy Approved by the FDA for Slowing the Rate of Decline in Pulmonary Function in Adults With Systemic Sclerosis-Associated Interstitial Lung Disease, a Rare, Debilitating Condition
Genentech, a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Actemra (tocilizumab) subcutaneous injection for slowing the rate of decline in pulmonary function in adult patients with systemic sclerosis-associated interstitial lung disease (SSc-ILD), a debilitating condition with limited treatment options. Actemra is the first biologic therapy approved by the FDA for the treatment of the disease.
Systemic sclerosis (SSc), also known as scleroderma, is an often devastating autoimmune disease that worsens over time and has no cure. It occurs when the immune system malfunctions causing tissues of the skin and lungs to thicken and harden. SSc impacts up to 75,000 people in the United States. Interstitial lung disease (ILD), which may occur in approximately 80% of SSc patients, causes inflammation and scarring of the lungs and can be life-threatening.
“We are honored to offer the very first FDA-approved biologic treatment option to people living with systemic sclerosis-associated interstitial lung disease,” said Levi Garraway, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. “We worked closely with the FDA to evaluate Actemra’s impact on lung function in this setting. This milestone approval provides a much-needed new treatment option for people living with this rare, debilitating disease.”
The FDA approval is based on data from the focuSSced trial, a Phase III randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 212 adults with systemic sclerosis. Supportive information was also used from the faSScinate trial, a Phase II/III, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in patients with SSc. The focuSSced trial did not meet its primary endpoint of change from baseline to week 48 in the modified Rodnan Skin Score (mRSS), which is a standard outcome measure for skin fibrosis (the scarring or hardening of the skin) in SSc. There also was not a statistically significant effect on the primary endpoint of mRSS in the faSScinate trial.
However, in the overall population of the focuSSced study, patients treated with Actemra, as compared to placebo-treated patients, were observed to have less decline from baseline to week 48 in observed forced vital capacity (FVC), a common measure of lung function that assesses how much air can be exhaled, and percent predicted forced vital capacity (ppFVC), which compares the observed FVC to that expected for a healthy person of the same age, gender, race and height. FVC results were similar in the faSScinate study.