FDA Oks First Drug Specific to Giant Cell Arteritis

May 22, 2017

The U.S. FDA expanded the approved use of subcutaneous (injected under the skin) Actemra (tocilizumab) to treat adults with giant cell arteritis. This new indication provides the first FDA-approved therapy, specific to this type of vasculitis.

“We expedited the development and review of this application because this drug fulfills a critical need for patients with this serious disease who had limited treatment  options,” said Badrul Chowdhury, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Rheumatology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Giant cell arteritis is a form of vasculitis, a group of disorders that results in inflammation of blood vessels. This inflammation causes the arteries to narrow or become irregular, impeding adequate blood flow.

Subcutaneous Actemra was previously approved for the treatment of moderate to severely active rheumatoid arthritis. Intravenous Actemra was also previously approved for the treatment of moderate to severely active rheumatoid arthritis, systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis and polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Intravenous administration is not approved for giant cell arteritis.

The FDA granted the supplemental approval of Actemra to Hoffman La Roche, Inc.

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