FDA approves carfilzomib for some patients with multiple myeloma

July 20, 2012

FDA has approved carfilzomib (Kyprolis, Onyx Pharmaceuticals) to treat patients with multiple myeloma who have received at least 2 prior therapies, including treatment with bortezomib (Velcade, Takeda) and an immunomodulatory therapy.

FDA has approved carfilzomib (Kyprolis, Onyx Pharmaceuticals) to treat patients with multiple myeloma who have received at least 2 prior therapies, including treatment with bortezomib (Velcade, Takeda) and an immunomodulatory therapy.

A form of blood cancer that arises from plasma cells, multiple myeloma usually grows in bone marrow, where normal blood cells are produced. In 2012, an estimated 21,700 people will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma and 10,710 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

“The approval of Kyprolis provides a treatment option to patients with multiple myeloma whose disease has progressed despite use of available therapies,” Richard Pazdur, MD, director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a press release. “We are encouraged by the continued progress in the development of drugs for multiple myeloma over the past decade, offering improved treatment of this disease.”

The safety and effectiveness of carfilzomib, which is administered intravenously, was evaluated in a study of 266 patients with relapsed multiple myeloma who had received at least 2 prior therapies, including bortezomib and thalidomide (Thalomid, Celgene).

The study was designed to measure the percentage of patients who experienced complete or partial disappearance of tumor after treatment (overall response rate). The overall response rate was 23%. The median duration of response was 7.8 months.

The most common side effects observed in more than 30% of the study participants were fatigue, low blood cell count and blood platelet levels, shortness of breath, diarrhea, and fever. Serious side effects seen with carfilzomib included heart failure and shortness of breath. Patients should be monitored closely and treatment withheld if these serious side effects occur.

The drug is being approved under FDA’s accelerated approval program, which allows the agency to approve a drug to treat a serious disease based on clinical data showing that the drug has an effect on a surrogate end point that is reasonably likely to predict a clinical benefit to patients. The program is designed to provide patients with earlier access to promising new drugs. The company is required to submit additional clinical information after approval to confirm the drug’s clinical benefit.