AZ gain European approval for severe eosinophilic asthma treatment

Opdivo approved in US for treating small cell lung cancer
Credit: Shutterstock.com/ uwadol Jaturawutthichai

AstraZeneca has picked up European approval for Fasenra as an add-on maintenance treatment in adult patients with severe eosinophilic asthma.

The approval is based on the results from the WINDWARD programme, including the pivotal Phase III exacerbation trials, SIROCCO and CALIMA, and the Phase III OCS-sparing trial, ZONDA.

“Fasenra is our first respiratory biologic medicine,” said Sean Bohen, Executive Vice President, Global Medicines Development and Chief Medical Officer at AstraZeneca.

“Today’s decision from the EC follows the recent approval of Fasenra in the US and is another positive step towards our ambition to transform care for severe asthma patients whose disease is driven by eosinophilic inflammation.”

Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell that are a normal part of the body’s immune system. Elevated levels of eosinophils, seen in about half of severe asthma patients, impact airway inflammation and airway hyper-responsiveness, resulting in increased asthma severity and symptoms, decreased lung function and increased risk of exacerbations.

Fasenra binds directly to the IL-5α receptor on an eosinophil and attracts natural killer cells to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death).

Fasenra will be available as a fixed-dose subcutaneous injection via a prefilled syringe administered once every 4 weeks for the first 3 doses, and then once every 8 weeks thereafter.

In November 2017, the US FDA approved Fasenra for the add-on maintenance treatment of patients with severe asthma aged 12 years and older, and with an eosinophilic phenotype.

Fasenra is also under regulatory review in Japan and several other countries, with expected regulatory decisions in H1 2018.