FDA OKs First-in-Class HIV Therapy for Patients With Few Options

Megan Brooks

July 06, 2020

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved fostemsavir (Rukobia, ViiV Healthcare), a first-in-class attachment inhibitor for the treatment of HIV-1 infection in adults.

Fostemsavir is indicated for use in combination with other antiretroviral (ARV) agents in heavily treatment-experienced adults with multidrug-resistant HIV-1 infection who fail to achieve viral suppression on other regimens due to resistance, intolerance, or safety considerations.

"This approval marks a new class of antiretroviral medications that may benefit patients who have run out of HIV treatment options," Jeff Murray, MD, deputy director of the Division of Antivirals in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.

"The availability of new classes of antiretroviral drugs is critical for heavily treatment-experienced patients living with multidrug resistant HIV infection — helping people living with hard-to-treat HIV who are at greater risk for HIV-related complications to potentially live longer, healthier lives," he said.

Fostemsavir 600 mg extended-release tablets are taken twice daily.

In the phase 3 BRIGHTE study, 60% of adults who added fostemsavir to optimized background ARV therapy achieved and maintained viral suppression through 96 weeks and saw clinically meaningful improvements in CD4+ T cells.

Most of the 371 participants in the study had been on anti-HIV therapy for more than 15 years (71%), had been exposed to five or more different HIV treatment regimens (85%), and/or had a history of AIDS (86%).

The most common adverse reactions with fostemsavir are nausea, fatigue, and diarrhea. Serious drug reactions included liver enzyme elevations in patients co-infected with hepatitis B or C virus and three cases of severe immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome. 

"Exciting" Advance

"There is a small group of heavily treatment-experienced adults living with HIV who are not able to maintain viral suppression with currently available medication and, without effective new options, are at great risk of progressing to AIDS," Deborah Waterhouse, CEO of ViiV Healthcare, said in a news release.

"The approval of Rukobia is a culmination of incredibly complex research, development, and manufacturing efforts to ensure we leave no person living with HIV behind," she said.

"As a novel HIV attachment inhibitor, fostemsavir targets the first step of the viral lifecycle offering a new mechanism of action to treat people living with HIV," Jacob P. Lalezari, MD, chief executive officer and director of Quest Clinical Research, commented in the release.

Fostemsavir is an "exciting" advance for the heavily treatment-experienced population and "an advancement the HIV community has long been waiting for. As an activist as well as researcher, I am very grateful to ViiV Healthcare for their commitment to heavily-treatment experienced people living with HIV," he added.

Fostemsavir was reviewed and approved under the FDA's fast track and breakthrough therapy designations, which are intended to facilitate and expedite the development and review of new drugs to address unmet medical need in the treatment of a serious or life-threatening condition.

Full prescribing information is available online.

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