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FDA approves Arikayce (amikacin liposome inhalation suspension), a new antibacterial drug to treat a serious lung disease using a novel pathway to spur innovation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug, Arikayce (amikacin liposome inhalation suspension), for the treatment of lung disease caused by a group of bacteria, Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) in a limited population of patients with the disease who do not respond to conventional treatment (refractory disease).

MAC is a type of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) commonly found in water and soil. Symptoms of disease in patients with MAC include persistent cough, fatigue, weight loss, night sweats, and occasionally shortness of breath and coughing up of blood.

“As bacteria continue to grow impervious to currently available antibiotics, we need to encourage the development of drugs that can treat resistant infections. That means utilizing novel tools intended to streamline development and encourage investment into these important endeavors,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “This approval is the first time a drug is being approved under the Limited Population Pathway for Antibacterial and Antifungal Drugs, and it marks an important policy milestone. This pathway, advanced by Congress, aims to spur development of drugs targeting infections that lack effective therapies. We’re seeing a lot of early interest among sponsors in using this new pathway, and it’s our hope that it’ll spur more development and approval of antibacterial drugs for treating serious or life-threatening infections in limited populations of patients with unmet medical needs.”

Arikayce is the first drug to be approved under the Limited Population Pathway for Antibacterial and Antifungal Drugs, or LPAD pathway, established by Congress under the 21st Century Cures Act to advance development and approval of antibacterial and antifungal drugs to treat serious or life-threatening infections in a limited population of patients with unmet need. Approval under the LPAD pathway may be supported by a streamlined clinical development program. These programs may involve smaller, shorter or fewer clinical trials. As required for drugs approved under the LPAD pathway, labeling for Arikayce includes certain statements to convey that the drug has been shown to be safe and effective only for use in a limited population.

Arikayce also was approved under the Accelerated Approval pathway. Under this approach, the FDA may approve drugs for serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions where the drug is shown to have an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict a clinical benefit to patients. The approval of Arikayce was based on achieving three consecutive negative monthly sputum cultures by month six of treatment. The sponsor of Arikayce will be required by the FDA to conduct an additional, post-market study to describe the clinical benefits of Arikayce.

The safety and efficacy of Arikayce, an inhaled treatment taken through a nebulizer, was demonstrated in a randomized, controlled clinical trial where patients were assigned to one of two treatment groups. One group of patients received Arikayce plus a background multi-drug antibacterial regimen, while the other treatment group received a background multi-drug antibacterial regimen alone. By the sixth month of treatment, 29 percent of patients treated with Arikayce had no growth of mycobacteria in their sputum cultures for three consecutive months compared to 9 percent of patients who were not treated with Arikayce.

The Arikayce prescribing information includes a Boxed Warning regarding the increased risk of respiratory conditions including hypersensitivity pneumonitis (inflamed lungs), bronchospasm (tightening of the airway), exacerbation of underlying lung disease and hemoptysis (spitting up blood) that have led to hospitalizations in some cases. Other common side effects in patients taking Arikayce were dysphonia (difficulty speaking), cough, ototoxicity (damaged hearing), upper airway irritation, musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, diarrhea and nausea.

The FDA granted this application Fast Track, Breakthrough Therapy, Priority Review, and Qualified Infectious Disease Product (QIDP) designations. QIDP designation is given to antibacterial products that treat serious or life-threatening infections under the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now (GAIN) title of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act. Arikayce also received Orphan Drug designation, which provides additional incentives to assist and encourage the development of drugs for rare diseases.

The FDA granted approval of Arikayce to Insmed, Inc. of Bridgewater, NJ.

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