FDA Okays Terlipressin (Terlivaz) Injection for Hepatorenal Syndrome

Megan Brooks

September 16, 2022

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved terlipressin (Terlivaz), the first and only drug approved for patients with hepatorenal syndrome (HRS).

HRS is characterized by progressive deterioration in kidney function in people with advanced liver disease.

Terlipressin is an injectable synthetic vasopressin analogue indicated for patients with HRS who are experiencing rapid deterioration of kidney function (type 1 HRS). The condition affects an estimated 35,000 Americans annually.

The safety and efficacy of terlipressin for type 1 HRS was assessed in the phase 3 CONFIRM trial, which involved 300 patients in the US and Canada.

Patients received either an injection of terlipressin (0.85 mg) or placebo every 6 hours for a maximum of 14 days. The dose was adjusted on the basis of changes in kidney function.

Twenty-nine percent of patients in the terlipressin group experienced improvement in kidney function, vs 16% in the placebo group.

The CONFIRM trial met its primary endpoint of verified HRS reversal, defined as renal function improvement, avoidance of dialysis, and short-term survival (P = .012).

To achieve this endpoint, patients had to have two consecutive serum creatinine (SCr) values of ≤1.5 mg/dL at least 2 hours apart by day 14 or be discharged from the hospital.

The most commonly observed adverse reactions that occurred in at least 4% of patients treated with terlipressin were abdominal pain (19.5%), nausea (16%), respiratory failure (15.5%), diarrhea (13%), and dyspnea (12.5%).

Results of the CONFIRM trial were published last year in The New England Journal of Medicine.

"Diagnosing and treating HRS can be challenging, and every minute counts when managing patients who have it," said Steven Romano, MD, executive vice president and chief scientific officer at Mallinckrodt, which makes the drug.

"Terlivaz gives physicians the first FDA-approved option for treating HRS patients with rapid reduction in kidney function that may help them improve kidney function and lessen the associated need for renal replacement therapy, such as dialysis," Romano said.

The company plans to launch the product in the coming weeks.

The application for terlipressin for HRS was granted priority review and fast-track status, as well as orphan drug designation, which provides incentives to assist and encourage the development of drugs for rare diseases.

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