Genzyme, a Sanofi company has announced that Mexico’s national regulatory authority, COFEPRIS, has approved Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) for the treatment of patients with relapsing remitting forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) to slow or reverse the accumulation of physical disability and reduce the frequency of clinical exacerbations.
“ The approval of Lemtrada in Mexico is an important step forward for MS patients, who remain in great need of new treatment options that may offer greater efficacy, ” said Miguel A. Macias, M.D., Department of Neuroscience, University of Guadalajara. “ The positive effect on disability progression demonstrated in clinical studies underscores Lemtrada’s ability to address the course of disease in a potentially transformative way for patients with relapsing remitting MS. ”
Lemtrada is supported by a comprehensive and extensive clinical development program that involved nearly 1,500 patients and 5,400 patient-years of follow-up. Approval in Mexico follows the recent approvals of Lemtrada in Canada, Australia and the European Union. Lemtrada is currently not approved in the United States. In December, Genzyme received a complete response letter from the FDA on its application for U.S. approval of Lemtrada. Genzyme plans to appeal the agency’s decision. Marketing applications for Lemtrada are also under review in other countries.
More than 2.3 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with MS, including approximately 15,000 people in Mexico. Lemtrada has been granted orphan drug designation in Mexico.
Lemtrada 12 mg has a novel dosing and administration schedule of two annual treatment courses. The first treatment course of Lemtrada is administered via intravenous infusion on five consecutive days, and the second course is administered on three consecutive days, 12 months later.
“ The approvals in the European Union, Australia, Canada and now Mexico underscore Lemtrada’s potential to have a positive impact on the lives of MS patients,” said Genzyme President and CEO, David Meeker. “ Genzyme remains committed to providing new hope for the MS community and plans this year to launch Lemtrada in more than 30 countries, and hopefully additional markets where the treatment is still under review.”
The Lemtrada clinical development program included two randomized Phase III studies comparing treatment with Lemtrada to high-dose subcutaneous interferon beta-1a (Rebif ® ) in patients with RRMS who had active disease and were either new to treatment (CARE-MS I) or who had relapsed while on prior therapy (CARE-MS II), as well as an ongoing extension study. In CARE-MS I, Lemtrada was significantly more effective than interferon beta-1a at reducing annualized relapse rates; the difference observed in slowing disability progression did not reach statistical significance. In CARE-MS II, Lemtrada was significantly more effective than interferon beta-1a at reducing annualized relapse rates, and accumulation of disability was significantly slowed in patients given Lemtrada vs. interferon beta-1a.
The most common side effects of Lemtrada are infusion associated reactions, infections (upper respiratory tract and urinary tract), lymphopenia and leukopenia. Autoimmune conditions and serious infections can occur in patients receiving Lemtrada. A comprehensive risk management program incorporating education and monitoring will support early detection and management of these identified risks.