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FDA Approves Component of Treatment Regimen for Most Common Childhood Cancer

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Alternative Has Been in Global Shortage Since 2016

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Rylaze (asparaginase erwinia chrysanthemi (recombinant)-rywn) as a component of a chemotherapy regimen to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia and lymphoblastic lymphoma in adult and pediatric patients who are allergic to the E. coli-derived asparaginase products used most commonly for treatment. The only other FDA-approved drug for such patients with allergic reactions has been in global shortage for years.

“It is extremely disconcerting to patients, families and providers when there is a lack of access to critical drugs for treatment of a life-threatening, but often curable cancer, due to supply issues,” said Gregory Reaman, M.D., associate director for pediatric oncology in the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence. “Today’s approval may provide a consistently sourced alternative to a pivotal component of potentially curative therapy for children and adults with this type of leukemia.”

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia occurs in approximately 5,700 patients annually, about half of whom are children. It is the most common type of childhood cancer. One component of the chemotherapy regimen is an enzyme called asparaginase that kills cancer cells by depriving them of substances needed to survive. An estimated 20% of patients are allergic to the standard E. coli-derived asparaginase and need an alternative their bodies can tolerate.

Rylaze’s efficacy was evaluated in a study of 102 patients who either had a hypersensitivity to E. coli-derived asparaginases or experienced silent inactivation. The main measurement was whether patients achieved and maintained a certain level of asparaginase activity. The study found that the recommended dosage would provide the target level of asparaginase activity in 94% of patients.

The Treatment

The most common side effects of Rylaze include hypersensitivity reactions, pancreatic toxicity, blood clots, hemorrhage and liver toxicity.

This review was conducted under Project Orbis, an initiative of the FDA Oncology Center of Excellence. Project Orbis provides a framework for concurrent submission and review of oncology drugs among international partners. For this review, FDA collaborated with Health Canada, where the application review is pending.

Rylaze received Fast Track and Orphan Drug designations for this indication. Fast Track is a process designed to facilitate the development and expedite the review of drugs to treat serious conditions and fulfill an unmet medical need. Orphan Drug designation provides incentives to assist and encourage drug development for rare diseases.

The FDA granted approval of Rylaze to Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

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