FDA Approves Pomalidomide for Kaposi Sarcoma

Nick Mulcahy


May 15, 2020

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted accelerated approval to pomalidomide (Pomalyst, Bristol-Myers Squibb) for the treatment of AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma that is resistant to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) or that occurs in HIV-negative patients.

Pomalidomide is the only oral agent and first new treatment option for Kaposi sarcoma in more than 20 years, according to the company.

The drug, a thalidomide analogue, is already marketed for the treatment of multiple myeloma.

Pomalidomide has "shown positive results in Kaposi sarcoma patients, regardless of their HIV status," said Robert Yarchoan, MD, chief of the HIV and AIDS Malignancy Branch, National Cancer Institute, in a press statement.

The conditional approval is based on the 71% overall response rate observed in a phase 1/2 open-label, single-arm clinical trial that involved 28 patients, 18 of whom were HIV-positive and 10 were 10 HIV-negative.

Most of the responses were partial (57%; 16/28); 14% (4/28) were complete. Median duration of response was 12.1 months. Additionally, for half of the patients who showed a response, that response was maintained for more than 12 months.

Patients received 5 mg of pomalidomide once daily for 21 of 28-day cycles until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity occurred.

Permanent discontinuation due to an adverse reaction occurred in 11% (3/28) of patients.

Adverse reactions (≥20%) included maculopapular rash (71%), constipation (71%), fatigue (68%), nausea (36%), diarrhea (32%), cough (29%), dyspnea (29%), peripheral edema (29%), upper respiratory tract infection (29%), muscle spasms (25%), hypothyroidism (21%), dry skin (21%), and chills (21%).

Grade 3 or 4 adverse reactions included maculopapular rash (3.6%), diarrhea (3.6%), and peripheral edema (3.6%).

Grade 3 or 4 laboratory abnormalities (≥5%) that worsened from baseline included decreased absolute neutrophil count (50%), decreased phosphate level (25%), elevated glucose level (7%), and elevated creatine kinase level (7%).

As a thalidomide analogue, pomalidomide includes a boxed warning in the prescriding information; thalidomide is a known human teratogen that causes severe birth defects or embryo-fetal death. Deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, myocardial infarction, and stroke can occur in patients treated with pomalidomide; thromboprophylaxis is recommended.

Pomalidomide is only available through a restricted distribution program, Pomalyst REMS.

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