FDA Approves First Drug for Treatment of Resistant Cytomegalovirus Infection

Lucy Hicks

November 24, 2021

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first treatment for post-transplant cytomegalovirus (CMV) that is resistant to other drugs. The treatment, maribavir (Livtencity), is approved for adults and children 12 years and older who weigh at least 35 kg (77 pounds).

There are an estimated 200,000 adult transplants every year globally. CMV, a type of herpes virus, is one of the most common infections in transplant patients, occurring in 16% to 56% of solid organ transplant recipients and 30% to 70% of hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients, according to Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, the company that manufactures Livtencity. For immunosuppressed transplant patients, CMV infection can lead to complications that include loss of the transplanted or organ or even death.

"Cytomegalovirus infections that are resistant or do not respond to available drugs are of even greater concern," John Farley, MD, MPH, the director of the Office of Infectious Diseases in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. "Today's approval helps meet a significant unmet medical need by providing a treatment option for this patient population."

Livtencity, which is taken orally, works by preventing the activity of the enzyme responsible for virus replication. The approval, announced November 23, was based on a phase 3 clinical trial that compared Livtencity with conventional antiviral treatments in the achievement of CMV DNA concentration levels below what is measurable in transplant patients with CMV infection that is refractory or treatment-resistant. After 8 weeks, of the 235 patients who received Livtencity, 56% achieved this primary endpoint, compared with 24% of the 117 patients who received conventional antiviral treatments, the press release says.

The most reported adverse reactions of Livtencity were taste disturbance, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and fatigue.

"We are grateful for the contributions of the patients and clinicians who participated in our clinical trials, as well as the dedication of our scientists and researchers," said Ramona Sequeira, President of the Takeda's US Business Unit and Global Portfolio Commercialization, in a statement. "People undergoing transplants have a lengthy and complex healthcare journey; with the approval of this treatment, we're proud to offer these individuals a new oral antiviral to fight CMV infection and disease."

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