The incidence of Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) is reportedly higher and the cure rate lower in individuals with cancer versus those without cancer. An exploratory post-hoc analysis of the MODIFY I/II trials (NCT01241552/NCT01513239) investigated how bezlotoxumab affected the rate of CDI-related outcomes in participants with cancer.
Participants received a single infusion of bezlotoxumab (10 mg/kg) or placebo during anti-CDI antibacterial treatment. A post-hoc analysis of CDI-related outcomes was conducted in subgroups of MODIFY I/II participants with and without cancer.
Of 1,554 participants in the modified intent-to-treat (mITT) population, 382 (24.6%) were diagnosed with cancer (bezlotoxumab 190, placebo 192). Of participants without cancer, 591 and 581 received bezlotoxumab and placebo, respectively. In the placebo group, initial clinical cure (ICC) was achieved by fewer cancer participants versus participants without cancer (71.9% versus 83.1%; absolute difference [95% CI]: -11.3% [-18.6, -4.5]), however, CDI recurrence (rCDI) rates were similar in cancer (30.4%) and non-cancer (34.0%) participants. In participants with cancer, bezlotoxumab treatment had no effect on ICC rate compared with placebo (76.8% versus 71.9%), but resulted in a statistically significant reduction in rCDI versus placebo (17.8% versus 30.4%; absolute difference [95% CI]: 12.6% [-22.5, -2.7]).
In this post-hoc analysis of participants with cancer enrolled in MODIFY I/II, the rate of rCDI in bezlotoxumab-treated participants was lower than in placebo-treated participants. Additional studies are needed to confirm these results.
Listen at your leisure as our guest, Dr Mary Beth Dorr, PhD, Clinical Director, Clinical Research, Infectious Diseases, and he product development team lead for bezlotoxumab, Merck & Co., Inc. provided us with an overview of a C. diff. infection, the challenges of recurrence, the latest clinical research overview, current treatment landscape, and pending new C. diff infection treatment guidelines from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) that are anticipated to be released fall of 2017.
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ZINPLAVA is indicated to reduce recurrence of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) in patients 18 years of age or older who are receiving antibacterial drug treatment of CDI and are at a high risk for CDI recurrence.
ZINPLAVA is not indicated for the treatment of CDI.
ZINPLAVA is not an antibacterial drug.
ZINPLAVA should only be used in conjunction with antibacterial drug treatment of CDI.
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Merck known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, on October 22, 2016 announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved ZINPLAVA (bezlotoxumab) Injection 25 mg/mL.
Merck anticipates making ZINPLAVA available in first quarter 2017.
ZINPLAVA is indicated to reduce recurrence of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) in patients 18 years of age or older who are receiving antibacterial drug treatment of CDI and are at high risk for CDI recurrence.
ZINPLAVA is not indicated for the treatment of CDI.
ZINPLAVA is not an antibacterial drug. ZINPLAVA should only be used in conjunction with antibacterial drug treatment of CDI.
CDI is caused by bacteria that produce toxins, including toxin B. Symptoms of CDI include mild-to-severe diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. The incidence of recurrent CDI is higher in certain patient populations, including people 65 years of age or older and those with compromised immune systems.
“For generations, Merck has been steadfast in its commitment to fighting infectious diseases – and that commitment continues today. ZINPLAVA is a human monoclonal antibody that binds to C. difficile toxin B and neutralizes its effects,” said Dr. Nicholas Kartsonis, vice president of clinical development, infectious diseases, Merck Research Laboratories.
Selected safety information about ZINPLAVA
Heart failure was reported more commonly in the two Phase 3 clinical trials in ZINPLAVA-treated patients compared to placebo-treated patients. These adverse reactions occurred primarily in patients with underlying congestive heart failure (CHF). In patients with a history of CHF, 12.7% (15/118) of ZINPLAVA-treated patients and 4.8% (5/104) of placebo-treated patients had the serious adverse reaction of heart failure during the 12-week study period. Additionally, in patients with a history of CHF, there were more deaths in ZINPLAVA-treated patients [19.5% (23/118)] than in placebo-treated patients [12.5% (13/104)] during the 12-week study period. The causes of death varied, and included cardiac failure, infections, and respiratory failure. In patients with a history of CHF, ZINPLAVA (bezlotoxumab) should be reserved for use when the benefit outweighs the risk.
The most common adverse reactions occurring within 4 weeks of infusion with a frequency greater than placebo and reported in ≥4% of patients treated with ZINPLAVA and Standard of Care (SoC) antibacterial drug therapy vs placebo and SoC antibacterial drug therapy included nausea (7% vs 5%), pyrexia (5% vs 3%) and headache (4% vs 3%).
Serious adverse reactions occurring within 12 weeks following infusion were reported in 29% of ZINPLAVA-treated patients and 33% of placebo-treated patients. Heart failure was reported as a serious adverse reaction in 2.3% of ZINPLAVA-treated patients and 1.0% of placebo-treated patients.
In ZINPLAVA-treated patients, 10% experienced one or more infusion specific adverse reactions compared to 8% of placebo-treated patients, on the day of or the day after, the infusion. Infusion specific adverse reactions reported in ≥0.5% of patients receiving ZINPLAVA and at a frequency greater than placebo were nausea (3%), fatigue (1%), pyrexia (1%), dizziness (1%), headache (2%), dyspnea (1%) and hypertension (1%). Of these patients, 78% experienced mild adverse reactions, and 20% of patients experienced moderate adverse reactions. These reactions resolved within 24 hours following onset.
As with all therapeutic proteins, there is a potential for immunogenicity following administration of ZINPLAVA. The detection of antibody formation is highly dependent on the sensitivity and specificity of the assay. Additionally, the observed incidence of antibody (including neutralizing antibody) positivity in an assay may be influenced by several factors including assay methodology, sample handling, timing of sample collection, concomitant medications, and underlying disease. For these reasons, comparison of the incidence of antibodies to bezlotoxumab in two Phase 3 studies with the incidence of antibodies in other studies or to other products may be misleading. Following treatment with ZINPLAVA in these two studies, none of the 710 evaluable patients tested positive for treatment-emergent anti-bezlotoxumab antibodies.
Bezlotoxumab was developed by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s MassBiologics Laboratory in conjunction with Medarex (now part of Bristol-Myers Squibb), and was licensed to Merck in 2009.
For 125 years, Merck has been a global health care leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. 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.
Merck & Co’s experimental drug to treat the most common hospital-associated infectious diarrhea
* Clostridium difficile * warrants approval, an advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday.
The panel voted 10-5, with one abstention, that the drug, bezlotoxumab, was effective in preventing a recurrence of infection with Clostridium difficile, or C. difficile, a germ that causes inflammation of the colon and potentially fatal diarrhea.
The FDA is not obliged to follow the advice of its advisory panels but typically does.
The panel’s vote follows an internal review by FDA staff which found an apparent decrease in recurrence of C. difficile but expressed concern as to whether the drug could hurt the cure rate of the initial C. difficile episode.
Panelists who voted in favor of the drug acknowledged the FDA’s concerns but said they were persuaded there was a need for new targeted therapies and this one seems effective.
“We haven’t had a new drug for C. difficile in our armamentarium for some time,” Dr. Joanna Schaenman, assistant professor of medicine at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, said.
Merck & Co. bezlotoxumab was successful in two Phase III trials against the recurrence of
Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection when combined with antibiotics.
Currently, there are no therapies approved for the prevention of recurrent disease caused by C. difficile.
Bezlotoxumab’s approval would also make it the first antibody to treat bacterial infection.
Scientists say mAbs would have benefits over small molecule antibiotics because they are less likely to drive antimicrobial resistance and are administered less frequently. “Results of these studies showed that a single, one-time infusion of the antitoxin bezlotoxumab given with standard of care C. difficile antibiotic treatment significantly reduced the recurrence of C. difficile infection compared to standard of care alone, and demonstrated this benefit over a 12-week period,” said lead investigator Mark Wilcox of the University of Leeds, UK. “These results were also demonstrated in patient subgroups known to be at high risk for C. difficile recurrence.”
C. difficile toxin B can damage the gut wall and cause inflammation, leading to the symptoms of C. difficile enteritis, which include abdominal pain and watery diarrhea. Bezlotoxumab, a fully-human monoclonal antibody, was developed by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s MassBiologics Laboratory with Medarex (now part of Bristol-Myers Squibb), and licensed to Merck in 2009.
The studies Merck’s studies took more than 1,000 patients each and evaluated them over 12 weeks. Participants received either a single infusion of bezlotoxumab, actoxumab (another mAb designed to fight C. difficile),a combination of the two, or a placebo. The actoxumab arm of the study ended early for efficacy and safety reasons. Both studies had infection recurrence as their primary endpoint – this rate was significantly lower for the bezlotoxumab arms (17.4% and 15.7%) and bezlotoxumab plus actoxumab arms (15.9% and 14.9%), compared to placebos (27.6% and 25.7%). Actoxumab was found not to provide extra benefit on its own or combined with bezlotoxumab, so Merck’s marketing authorisation application is for bezlotoxumab alone.
The FDA is due to make its decision by July 23.
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