Upadacitinib (Rinvoq) Gains Psoriatic Arthritis as Second FDA-Approved Indication

Jeff Evans

December 15, 2021

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a 15-mg extended release tablet of upadacitinib (Rinvoq) for adults with psoriatic arthritis who had an inadequate response or intolerance to one or more anti-tumor necrosis factor drugs, manufacturer AbbVie announced December 14.

The approval is the second indication given by the agency for the selective Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor upadacitinib, which was previously approved for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in 2019.

Upadacitinib 15 mg is also approved by the European Commission for adults with RA, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. The European Commission also approved the drug for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis at both 15- and 30-mg doses for adults and at 15 mg for adolescents.

The approval is based on two phase 3 trials, SELECT-PsA 1 and SELECT-PsA 2, which together randomly assigned more than 2300 patients with psoriatic arthritis. In the trials, significantly more patients who took upadacitinib 15 mg met their primary endpoint of 20% improvement in American College of Rheumatology response criteria (ACR20) at week 12 (71% in SELECT-PsA 1 and 57% in SELECT-PsA 2) vs placebo (36% and 24%, respectively). Both trials also included treatment arms for upadacitinib at 30 mg, but the FDA approved only the 15-mg dose.

In the announcement, AbbVie noted that significantly higher percentages of patients treated with upadacitinib 15 mg in the SELECT-PSA 1 and 2 trials, respectively, met ACR50 (38% and 32%) and ACR70 (16% and 9%) criteria than did patients on placebo (13% and 5% for ACR50; 2% and 1% for ACR70). Symptoms of dactylitis and enthesitis improved with upadacitinib for patients who had them at baseline.

The trials' 12-week results also indicated that upadacitinib significantly improved physical function relative to placebo at baseline, based on the Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index, as well as fatigue, according to Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy – Fatigue (FACIT-F) scores. Skin manifestations also improved during the trial, but upadacitinib has not been studied for treating plaque psoriasis.

AbbVie reported that the safety results of upadacitinib in the trials were consistent with the results seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and during the trials' 24-week placebo-controlled period, the most common adverse events reported with upadacitinib were upper respiratory tract infection and blood creatine phosphokinase elevations.

Upadacitinib comes with a boxed warning that was formally placed on the drug's label this month after data from a postmarketing trial of the JAK inhibitor tofacitinib (Xeljanz and Xeljanz XR) in patients with RA aged 50 years and older with at least one cardiovascular risk factor showed numerically higher risks for all-cause mortality; lymphoma and other malignancies; major adverse cardiovascular events (cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, and stroke); and thrombosis, including deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and arterial thrombosis.

Upadacitinib also carries a boxed warning for an elevated risk of serious infection leading to hospitalization or death. In the SELECT-PsA 1 and 2 trials overall, rates of herpes zoster and herpes simplex were 1.1% and 1.4% with upadacitinib, compared with 0.8% and 1.3% with placebo.

Phase 3 trials of upadacitinib in RA, atopic dermatitis, psoriatic arthritis, axial spondyloarthritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, giant cell arteritis, and Takayasu arteritis are ongoing, according to AbbVie.

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