Plegridy (peginterferon beta-1a) approved in the USA for treatment of multiple sclerosis

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Biogen Idec has announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Plegridy (peginterferon beta-1a), a new treatment for people with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (RMS). Plegridy, the only pegylated beta interferon approved for use in RMS, is dosed once every two weeks and can be administered subcutaneously with the Plegridy pen, a new, ready-to-use autoinjector, or a prefilled syringe.

“Plegridy offers people with MS robust efficacy, a safety profile consistent with the established interferon class, and significantly fewer injections than other beta interferon treatments,” says George A Scangos, chief executive officer of Biogen Idec. “Plegridy represents the most significant innovation in the interferon class in over a decade, and is the result of our deep commitment to improving the lives of people with MS and those who care for them.”


The FDA approval of Plegridy is based on results from one of the largest pivotal studies of beta interferon conducted, ADVANCE, which involved more than 1,500 MS patients. ADVANCE was a two-year, phase 3, placebo-controlled (in year one) study that evaluated the efficacy and safety of PLEGRIDY administered subcutaneously. The analysis for all primary and secondary efficacy endpoints occurred at the end of year one. After the first year, patients on placebo received Plegridy for the duration of the study.


In the first year of the ADVANCE clinical trial, Plegridy dosed once every two weeks significantly reduced annualised relapse rate (ARR) at one year by 36% compared to placebo (p=0.0007). Plegridy reduced the risk of 12-week confirmed disability progression, as measured by the Expanded Disability Status Scale, by 38% (p=0.0383) compared to placebo. Plegridy also significantly reduced the number of new gadolinium-enhancing [Gd+] lesions by 86% (p<0.0001) and reduced new or newly enlarging T2-hyperintense lesions by 67% (p<0.0001) compared to placebo.


The most common adverse reactions were injection site reaction, flu-like illness, fever, headache, muscle pain, chills, injection site pain, weakness, injection site itching and joint pain. The ADVANCE two-year safety data were consistent with safety results observed in year one.


“Plegridy is a compelling new treatment option for people living with MS that offers a proven safety profile, strong efficacy and an every two week dosing schedule administered by an innovative delivery system,” says Peter Wade, medical director for neurology at the Mandell Center for Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research in Hartford, USA.
“As a treating neurologist, I believe these attributes will appeal to MS patients who look for less frequent dosing with proven effectiveness.”


Plegridy has been recently approved by the European Commission.


“It is always encouraging to have additional treatment options that may help people with MS manage their disease as we move towards our ultimate goal of ending MS forever,” says Timothy Coetzee, chief advocacy, services and research officer at the National MS Society.