IL-17 Inhibitor Approved in Europe for Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Lori Youmshajekian

June 01, 2023

The European Commission has approved secukinumab (Cosentyx) as a treatment for adults with active, moderate to severe hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) that didn't respond to conventional therapy.

The biologic is the first interleukin-17A (IL-17A) inhibitor to be approved for the treatment of moderate to severe HS. The manufacturer, Novartis, expects a regulatory decision from the US Food and Drug Administration later this year, according to a company press release announcing the approval.

The European approval is based on the results from the phase 3 SUNSHINE and SUNRISE trials, which evaluated the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of the drug. The multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trials enrolled a total of more than 1000 adults with moderate to severe HS.

Patients were randomly assigned either to receive subcutaneous secukinumab 300 mg every 2 weeks or 4 weeks or to receive placebo. The treatment was effective at improving the symptoms of HS when given every 2 weeks, according to results recently published in The Lancet.

The primary outcome measure for both trials was HS clinical response ― defined as a decrease in abscess and inflammatory nodule count by 50% or more with no increase in the number of abscesses or draining fistulae compared to baseline.

In the studies, 42% and 45% of patients treated with secukinumab every 2 weeks in the SUNRISE and SUNSHINE trials, respectively, had a clinical response at 16 weeks, compared with 31% and 34% among those who received placebo, which were statistically significant differences. A significant clinical response was seen at week 4 in the SUNSHINE trial and in week 2 in the SUNRISE trial. In both trials, clinical efficacy was sustained to the end of the trial, at week 52.

Headaches were the most common side effect. They affected approximately 1 in 10 patients in both trials.

HS, also called acne inversa, is a chronic skin condition that causes painful lesions. The condition affects 1% to 2% of the US population, according to the nonprofit Hidradenitis Suppurativa Foundation. It also disproportionately affects young adults, women, and Black patients.

In Europe, about 200,000 people live with moderate to severe stages of the condition, according to the Novartis press release.

Secukinumab inhibits IL-17A, a cytokine involved in the inflammation of psoriatic arthritis, plaque psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis, and nonradiographic axial spondylarthritis. It has been approved for the treatment of those conditions, as well as for the treatment of juvenile idiopathic arthritis and enthesitis-related arthritis in the United States and the European Union.

The only other approved biologic therapy for HS is the tumor necrosis factor inhibitor adalimumab.

Novartis is investigating the potential application of secukinumab for the treatment of lupus nephritis and giant cell arteritis, as well as polymyalgia rheumatica and rotator cuff tendinopathy, according to the company press release.

The study published in The Lancet was funded by Novartis.

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