FDA locks down combo immunotherapy trials, Roche added to hold

pharmafile | September 19, 2017 | News story | Manufacturing and Production, Sales and Marketing Roche, biotech, drugs, immunotherapy, pharma, pharmaceutical, tecentriq 

The FDA has moved to ensure that all immunotherapy trials studying PD-1/L1 agents, alongside immunomodulatory medicines in certain blood cancers have been placed on full or partial hold.

The latest to join this group is Roche’s Tecentriq, with a partial hold being placed on its trials examining the drug in combination with Celgene’s Revlimid or Pomalyst for multiple myeloma and follicular lymphoma.

The move by the FDA fits the pattern, as it signalled a strong stance after analysts noted a higher rate of deaths in MSD’s Keytruda trial into multiple myeloma. Since then, partial holds have been placed on MSD’s drug that began the lockdown, followed by BMS’s Opdivo, AstraZeneca’s Imfinzi and now Roche’s Tecentriq.

“It is our understanding that the FDA is evaluating all ongoing blood cancer trials investigating an anti-PD1/PDL1 medicine in combination with an immunomodulatory medicine to determine if it is a class-wide (anti-PD1/PDL1) concern in multiple myeloma/blood cancers or a specific concern with certain combinations with immunomodulatory medicines”, Roche released in a statement.

The two trials effected are Phase 1b and a Phase 1b/2 study into relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma and relapsed refractory follicular lymphoma, respectively. The trials are still on-going but will not be able to enrol further patients whilst the partial hold is in place.

The holds across the immunotherapy board is the first real sign of cause for concern in the wider area of PD-1/L1, as the science behind the therapies’ success is not yet fully understood. No data has yet been revealed to fully explain why the higher rate of death was noted or whether it has been experienced in other trials placed on hold.

The FDA explained its decision to broaden the holds across the board: “The FDA will take appropriate action as warranted to ensure patients enrolled in these trials are protected and that doctors and clinical trial researchers understand the risks associated with this investigational use”.

Ben Hargreaves

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