On April 6, 2020 the following publication was released by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
Information Pertaining to Additional Safety Protections Regarding Use of Fecal Microbiota for Transplantation — Testing of Stool Donors for Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli and Shigatoxin-Producing Escherichia coli
On March 12, 2020, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) informed health care providers and patients of the potential risk of serious or life-threatening infections with the use of fecal microbiota for transplantation (FMT). Infections caused by enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) and Shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) have occurred following investigational use of FMT for treatment of Clostridium difficile (also called Clostridioides difficile or C. difficile) infection not responsive to standard therapies. FDA suspects these infections are due to transmission of these pathogenic organisms from FMT product supplied by a stool bank company based in the United States.
After the release of FDA’s March 12, 2020, Safety Alert, the stool bank company publicly acknowledged FDA’s safety communication, so we are now identifying the stool bank as OpenBiome, a company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Because of these serious adverse events that occurred with investigational FMT, FDA has determined that additional protections are needed for any investigational use of FMT, whether under an Investigational New Drug Application (IND) on file with the FDA or under FDA’s enforcement discretion policy.
FDA has already communicated with OpenBiome and individually with IND holders for investigational FMT to underscore the need for additional protections.
These additional protections include:
Testing FMT donor stool by nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) for EPEC and STEC to exclude use of stool that tests positive for either EPEC or STEC.
Testing of stool from each donor before and after multiple stool donations, no more than 60 days apart; and, as applicable, quarantining FMT product lots manufactured from these donations until both pre- and post-donation EPEC and STEC tests are confirmed negative.
Testing of all FMT products currently in storage for which the donor has not undergone stool testing for both EPEC and STEC using NAAT as described above.
Until this testing is able to be completed, placing those FMT products in quarantine until they have been tested using NAAT and found negative for EPEC and STEC.
In the case of FMT products manufactured using pooled donations from a single donor, performing stool testing on individual stool samples (not pooled) within the testing window described above for a given lot of FMT product.
Patients considering FMT to treat C. difficile infection should speak to their health care provider to understand the potential risks associated with the product’s use.
FDA encourages all health care providers who have administered FMT products to their patients to report suspected adverse events to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.
The global public health community is responding to a rapidly evolving pandemic of respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus that was first detected in China.
The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “COVID-19.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is informing health care providers and patients of the potential risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus by the use of fecal microbiota for transplantation (FMT) and that FDA has determined that additional safety protections are needed.
Summary of the Issue
Several recent studies have documented the presence of SARS-CoV-2 ribonucleic acid (RNA) and/or SARS-CoV-2 virus in stool of infected individuals.1,2,3 This information suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may be transmitted by FMT, although the risk of such transmission is unknown.4 At this time, testing nasopharyngeal specimens from stool donors for SARS-CoV-2 may not be widely available. Furthermore, there is limited information on the availability and sensitivity of direct testing of stool for SARS-CoV-2.
Additional Protections for the Use of FMT
At this time, FDA is advising that clinical use of FMT has the potential to transmit SARS-CoV-2, whether used as part of a study under an Investigational New Drug Application (IND) on file with the FDA or under FDA’s enforcement discretion policy. To address the risk, stool used for FMT should have been donated before December 1, 2019. Due to the potential for serious adverse events to occur, FDA has determined that the following protections are needed for any use of FMT that is found to be necessary for clincal care if it involves stool donated after December 1, 2019:
Donor screening with questions directed at identifying donors who may be currently or recently infected with SARS-CoV-2;
Testing donors and/or donor stool for SARS-CoV-2, as feasible;
Development of criteria for exclusion of donors and donor stool based on screening and testing; and
Informed consent that includes information about the potential for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via FMT, including FMT prepared from stool from donors who are asymptomatic for COVID-19.
FDA is in the process of notifying IND holders of the potential risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via FMT and of FDA’s determination that additional safety protections that are needed.
FDA is communicating this information with this statement to all other stakeholders to ensure that everyone is fully informed.
As the scientific community learns more about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, FDA will provide further information as warranted.
Information for Health Care Providers and Patients on Enforcement Discretion
In July 2013, FDA issued a guidance document stating that it intends to exercise enforcement discretion under limited conditions regarding the IND requirements for the use of FMT products to treat C. difficile infection in patients that have not responded to standard therapies. The guidance states that FDA intends to exercise enforcement discretion provided that the treating physician obtains adequate consent for the use of FMT from the patient or his or her legally authorized representative. The consent should include, at a minimum, a statement that the use of FMT to treat C. difficile is investigational and a discussion of its potential risks.
Reporting Adverse Events
FDA encourages all health care providers and patients to report any suspected adverse events or side effects related to the administration of FMT products to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday issued a safety alert about the potential risk of serious, even life-threatening, infections linked to fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) after six patients were infected with diarrhea-causing Escherichia coli following the procedure. March 13, 2020
According to the alert, two patients developed enteropathogenic E coli (EPEC) infections, and four developed Shiga toxin–producing E coli (STEC), after receiving FMT for Clostridoides difficile infection. Four of the six patients required hospitalization.
“FDA is informing patients and healthcare providers of the potential risk of transmission of pathogenic bacteria by FMT products and the resultant serious adverse reactions that may occur,” the agency said. “Patients considering FMT for the treatment of C. difficile infection should speak to their health care provider to understand the associated risks.”
STEC is a pathogenic form of E coli that causes abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and mild fever. EPEC generally doesn’t cause any symptoms, but some strains can cause diarrhea.
Change in screening protocols
The stool used in the procedures all came from Boston-based OpenBiome, the country’s largest stool bank. The company said in a press release yesterday that the cases are the first reports of likely transmission of pathogens by FMT involving stool that came from OpenBiome, which has shipped more than 50,000 FMT treatments to physicians since 2013.
The patients who developed the infections received FMT product prepared from three OpenBiome donors. The two patients who developed EPEC infections were treated with stool from two donors, and the six STEC patients received stool from one donor. OpenBiome says all unused material from the donors has been destroyed.
The FDA says bacterial isolates from the patients’ stools are not yet available to determine if the STEC or EPEC organisms are genetically identical to the organisms from the stool donors—a finding that would confirm that the donor stool was the source of the infection.
In response to the safety alert, OpenBiome says it is immediately implementing changes to its screening program in collaboration with the FDA.
While the company has previously screened donor samples for STEC via enzyme immunoassay, and says the donor involved in the STEC cases tested negative at all screens, OpenBiome will add polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for STEC to its screening process. PCR tests on retained donor samples conducted after Openbiome was notified of the infections were found to be positive for STEC.
The retained stool samples from the donors linked to the EPEC infections were found to be positive for EPEC upon further testing from OpenBiome. The company says it has not previously screened donors for EPEC, a position based on international and national guidelines, but will immediately implement EPEC screening by PCR into its donor screening protocol.
“In addition to updating and implementing STEC and EPEC screening into our quality and safety protocols, OpenBiome is also working with FDA to implement retrospective screening of units to ensure that available material meets these new standards,” the company said.
After reporting the infections to the FDA, OpenBiome received information that two additional FMT recipients who received stool from the donor linked to the STEC infections had died. The company said in an update today that the treating clinician for one of the patients determined that the patient had died from underlying cardiac causes, and testing for STEC was not performed. In the second case, testing of donor material was negative for STEC.
“Therefore, it was determined that the death was unrelated to STEC,” the company said.
FMT safety issues
FMT has been found in several studies to be a highly effective treatment for recurrent C difficile infections that aren’t responding to antibiotics, and at least 10,000 FMT procedures for recurrent C difficile are performed each year. FMT is also being investigated for treating other conditions in more than 300 trials.
The idea behind the procedure is to introduce healthy bacteria from a donor into the gut microbiome of a sick recipient and restore the balance between good and bad bacteria.
But this is the second safety alert issued by the FDA regarding FMT. In June 2019, the agency warned of the potential for dangerous infections after two FMT patients developed drug-resistant bloodstream infections and one died, and the agency halted a number of FMT trials until additional screening measures could be put in place. A subsequent paper in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that the two patients, both of whom were enrolled in clinical trials at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, had extended-spectrum beta-lacatamase (ESBL)-producing E coli in their blood.
The two patients had both received stool from Mass General that came from the same donor. While the hospital had screened the stool for C difficile and the presence of drug-resistant pathogens by the hospital, it had not screened it for ESBL-producing E coli. The authors of the paper could not conclusively attribute the infections to FMT, but suspected the patients likely acquired the pathogen from the procedure.
Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, announced on January 27, 2020, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a New Drug Application (NDA) for DIFICID® (fidaxomicin) for oral suspension, and a supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) for DIFICID tablets for the treatment ofClostridioides (formerly Clostridium) difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD) in children aged six months and older.1
DIFICID is a macrolide antibacterial medicine indicated in adults and pediatric patients aged 6 months and older for the treatment of CDAD.
To reduce the development of drug-resistant bacteria and maintain the effectiveness of DIFICID and other antibacterial drugs, DIFICID should be used only to treat infections that are proven or strongly suspected to be caused by Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile).
DIFICID is contraindicated in patients who have known hypersensitivity to fidaxomicin or any other ingredient in DIFICID. DIFICID should only be used for the treatment of CDAD. DIFICID is not expected to be effective for the treatment of other types of infections due to minimal systemic absorption of fidaxomicin.
“C. difficile is an important cause of health care- and community-associated diarrheal illness in children and sustained cure is difficult to achieve in some patients. The fidaxomicin pediatric trial was the first randomized controlled trial of C. difficile infection treatment in children,” said Dr. Larry K. Kociolek, Associate Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “I am very excited to have a new C. difficile infection treatment option for my pediatric patients.”
“Merck is committed to developing new treatments, as well as expanding indications of existing ones, in order to provide more solutions to treat infectious diseases, particularly among children,” said Dr. Nicholas Kartsonis, senior vice president, clinical research, infectious diseases and vaccines, Merck Research Laboratories. “C. difficile infection is an urgent public health challenge. We are grateful to the health care practitioners, the patients and their families for their invaluable contributions in helping to bring this new pediatric indication and the oral suspension formulation for DIFICID to the U.S. market.”
Both applications received a priority review classification by the FDA. The investigational pediatric indication for DIFICID was granted Orphan Drug Designation in 2010.
Data Supporting the Approval of DIFICID in Pediatric Patients
The FDA’s approval of the new formulation and new indication for DIFICID was based on a Phase 3, multicenter, investigator-blind, randomized, parallel-group study (known as the SUNSHINE study, NCT02218372), in which the safety and efficacy of fidaxomicin was evaluated in pediatric patients from 6 months to less than 18 years of age (one patient was less than six months of age). This study, sponsored by Astellas Pharma Europe B.V. (with Merck & Co., Inc. as collaborator) included 148 randomized patients aged <18 years with confirmed CDI, of whom 142 received either fidaxomicin (suspension or tablets, twice daily) or vancomycin (suspension or tablets, four times daily) in a 2:1 ratio. Patients were randomized by age group, as follows: 30 patients from 6 months to <2 years; 49 patients age 2 to <6 years, 40 patients age 6 to <12 years and 29 patients age 12 to <18 years. Generally, the two treatment groups were balanced regarding demographics and other baseline characteristics. CDAD clinical response in the overall pediatric population, assessed through two days following 10 days of treatment, was similar between the fidaxomicin and vancomycin groups (77.6% vs. 70.5% with a 95% CI for the treatment difference of 7.5 [-7.4%, 23.9%]). Sustained clinical response, defined as the proportion of treated patients with confirmed clinical response and no CDAD recurrence through 30 days after the end of treatment, was higher for fidaxomicin than for vancomycin (68.4% vs. 50.0% with a 95% CI for the treatment difference of 18.4 [1.5%, 35.3%]).
The safety of DIFICID in pediatric patients 6 months to less than 18 years of age was evaluated in a Phase 2 single-arm trial in 38 patients and a Phase 3 randomized, active-controlled trial in 98 patients treated with DIFICID and 44 patients treated with vancomycin. Treatment discontinuation due to adverse reactions occurred in 7.9% (3/38) of patients in the Phase 2 trial, and in 1% (1/98) and 2.3% (1/44) of DIFICID- and vancomycin-treated patients, respectively, in the Phase 3 trial. The most common selected adverse reactions occurring in ≥5% of pediatric patients treated with DIFICID in the Phase 3 trial were pyrexia (13.3%), abdominal pain (8.2%), vomiting (7.1%), diarrhea (7.1%), constipation (5.1%), increased aminotransferases (5.1%) and rash (5.1%). One death occurred in the Phase 2 single-arm trial and three deaths occurred in the Phase 3 trial of DIFICID-treated patients. No deaths occurred in vancomycin-treated patients during the study period (40 days). All deaths occurred in patients less than 2 years of age and appeared to be related to underlying comorbidities.
Clostridioides (formerly Clostridium)difficile, also known as C. difficile or C. diff, is one of the most common causes of healthcare-associated infections in U.S. hospitals.2 Recent estimates suggest C. difficile causes almost 500,000 infections annually in the United States and is associated with approximately 29,000 deaths within 30 days of initial diagnosis.3 According to the CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2019 (2019 AR Threats Report), C. difficile is categorized as an urgent threat and is stated as a public health threat that requires urgent and aggressive action.4
Important Safety Information about DIFICID (fidaxomicin)
DIFICID is contraindicated in patients who have known hypersensitivity to fidaxomicin or any other ingredient in DIFICID.
Acute hypersensitivity reactions, including dyspnea, rash, pruritus, and angioedema of the mouth, throat, and face have been reported with DIFICID. If a severe hypersensitivity reaction occurs, DIFICID should be discontinued and appropriate therapy should be instituted.
DIFICID is not expected to be effective for the treatment of other types of infections due to minimal systematic absorption of fidaxomicin. DIFICID has not been studied for the treatment of infections other than CDAD. DIFICID should only be used for the treatment of CDAD.
Only use DIFICID for infection proven or strongly suspected to be caused by C. difficile. Prescribing DIFICID in the absence of a proven or strongly suspected C. difficile infection is unlikely to provide benefit to the patient and increases the risk of development of drug-resistant bacteria.
The most common adverse reactions reported in adults are nausea (11%), vomiting (7%), abdominal pain (6%), gastrointestinal hemorrhage (4%), anemia (2%) and neutropenia (2%).
The most common adverse reactions in pediatric patients are pyrexia (13.3%), abdominal pain (8.2%), vomiting (7.1%), diarrhea (7.1%), constipation (5.1%), increased aminotransferases (5.1%) and rash (5.1%).
Among patients receiving DIFICID (fidaxomicin), 33 (5.9%) withdrew from trials as a result of adverse reactions. Vomiting was the primary adverse reaction leading to discontinuation of dosing (incidence of 0.5% for both DIFICID and vancomycin patients).
The safety and effectiveness of DIFICID have not been established in pediatric patients younger than 6 months of age.
The recommended dose for adults is one 200 mg DIFICID tablet orally twice daily for 10 days, with or without food.
The recommended dose for pediatric patients weighing at least 12.5 kg and able to swallow tablets is one 200 mg DIFICID tablet administered orally twice daily for 10 days. If unable to swallow tablets, pediatric patients may be dosed with DIFICID oral suspension based on weight. DIFICID oral suspension should be administered orally twice daily for 10 days.
No dose adjustment is recommended for patients 65 years of age or older.
No dose adjustment is recommended for patients with renal impairment.
No dosage adjustments are recommended when co-administering DIFICID with substrates of P-gp or CYP enzymes.
The impact of hepatic impairment on the pharmacokinetics of DIFICID has not been evaluated; however, because DIFICID and its active metabolite (OP-1118) do not appear to undergo significant hepatic metabolism, elimination of DIFICID and OP-1118 is not expected to be significantly affected by hepatic impairment.
For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs, and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that threaten people and communities around the world – including cancer, cardio-metabolic diseases, emerging animal diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and infectious diseases including HIV and Ebola. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
Forward-Looking Statement of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA
This news release of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (the “Company”) includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of the company’s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. There can be no guarantees with respect to pipeline products that the products will receive the necessary regulatory approvals or that they will prove to be commercially successful. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.
Risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to, general industry conditions and competition; general economic factors, including interest rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation in the United States and internationally; global trends toward health care cost containment; technological advances, new products and patents attained by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development, including obtaining regulatory approval; the company’s ability to accurately predict future market conditions; manufacturing difficulties or delays; financial instability of international economies and sovereign risk; dependence on the effectiveness of the company’s patents and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to litigation, including patent litigation, and/or regulatory actions.
The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in the company’s 2018 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC’s Internet site (www.sec.gov).
announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted for review a New Drug Application (NDA) for DIFICID ® (fidaxomicin) for oral suspension, and a supplemental NDA (sNDA) for a new indication for use of DIFICID tablets and oral suspension for the treatment of Clostridium (also known as Clostridioides ) difficile infections (CDI) in children aged six months or older. Both applications have received a priority review classification by the FDA. The Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), or target action date for both applications, is set for Jan. 24, 2020. The investigational pediatric indication for DIFICID was granted Orphan Drug Designation (ODD) in 2010.
“Evidence indicates the increasing incidence of C. difficile -associated diarrhea among hospitalized children 1,” said Dr. Nicholas Kartsonis, senior vice president, Clinical Research, infectious diseases and vaccines, Merck Research Laboratories. “The filings for the pediatric indication for the new investigational oral suspension formulation of DIFICID, as well as for DIFICID tablets, underscore Merck’s focus and dedication to developing infectious disease treatments for those with unmet needs.”
The sNDA is based primarily on results of the Phase 3 SUNSHINE study 2, which were presented as part of the Late Breaker Oral Abstracts on Emerging Infections at IDWeek 2018 in San Francisco, California.
About DIFICID (fidaxomicin)
DIFICID is a macrolide antibacterial medicine indicated in adults (18 years of age or older) for treatment of Clostridium difficile -associated diarrhea (CDAD). To reduce the development of drug-resistant bacteria and maintain the effectiveness of DIFICID and other antibacterial drugs, DIFICID should be used only to treat infections that are proven or strongly suspected to be caused by Clostridiumdifficile. DIFICID is contraindicated in patients who have known hypersensitivity to fidaxomicin or any other ingredient in DIFICID. DIFICID should only be used for the treatment of C. difficile-associated diarrhea. DIFICID is not effective for the treatment of other types of infections due to minimal systemic absorption of fidaxomicin.
To review the article in its entirety click on the following link to be redirected. Thank you.