Arcalyst Gets FDA Nod as First Therapy for Recurrent Pericarditis

Patrice Wendling

March 25, 2021

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved rilonacept (Arcalyst) to treat recurrent pericarditis and reduce the risk for recurrence in adults and children 12 years and older.

Approval of the weekly subcutaneous injection offers patients the first and only FDA-approved therapy for recurrent pericarditis, the agency says in a release.

Recurrent pericarditis is characterized by a remitting-relapsing inflammation of the pericardium, and therapeutic options have been limited to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, colchicine, and corticosteroids.

Rilonacept is a recombinant fusion protein that blocks interleukin-1 alpha and interleukin-1 beta signaling. It is already approved by the FDA to treat a group of rare inherited inflammatory diseases called cryopyrin-associated periodic syndromes.

The new indication is based on the pivotal phase 3 RHAPSODY trial in 86 patients with acute symptoms of recurrent pericarditis and systemic inflammation. After randomization, pericarditis recurred in two of 30 patients (7%) treated with rilonacept and in 23 of 31 patients (74%) treated with placebo, representing a 96% reduction in the relative risk for recurrence with rilonacept.

Patients who received rilonacept were also pain-free or had minimal pain on 98% of trial days, whereas those who received placebo had minimal or no pain on 46% of trial days.

The most common adverse effects of rilonacept are injection-site reactions and upper respiratory tract infections.

Serious, life-threatening infections have been reported in patients taking rilonacept, according to the FDA. Patients with active or chronic infections should not take the drug.

The FDA label also advises that patients should avoid live vaccines while taking rilonacept and that it should be discontinued if a hypersensitivity reaction occurs.

The commercial launch is expected in April, according to the company.

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