U.S. government advisers expressed discomfort with Acrotech Biopharma’s 2030 target completion date for a study meant to prove the clinical benefits of two lymphoma drugs that the company has been selling for years.
At a Nov. 16 meeting, the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration reviewed the reasons for delays in confirmatory trials for pralatrexate (Folotyn) and belinostat (Beleodaq), both now owned by East Windsor, N.J.–based Acrotech. The FDA granted accelerated approval for pralatrexate in 2009 and belinostat in 2014.
“The consensus of the advisory committee is that we have significant concerns about the very prolonged delay and getting these confirmatory studies underway,” said Andy Chen, MD, PhD, of Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, who served as acting ODAC chair for the meeting.
Corporate ownership changes were among the reasons Acrotech cited for the long delays in producing the confirmatory research on pralatrexate and belinostat. Allos Therapeutics won the FDA approval of pralatrexate in 2009. In 2012, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals acquired Acrotech. Spectrum won approval of belinostat in 2014. Acrotech acquired Spectrum in 2019.
The FDA didn’t ask ODAC to take votes on any questions at the meeting. Instead, the FDA sought its expert feedback about how to address the prolonged delays with pralatrexate and belinostat research and, in general, how to promote more timely completion of confirmatory trials for drugs cleared by accelerated approval.
Pralatrexate and belinostat are both used to treat relapsed or refractory peripheral T-cell lymphoma, a rare and aggressive disease affecting about 10,000-15,000 people annually in the United States.
Through the accelerated approval process, the FDA seeks to speed medicines to people with fatal and serious conditions based on promising signs in clinical testing.
The initial pralatrexate and belinostat were based on phase 2, single-arm, monotherapy studies, with about 109 evaluable patients in the key pralatrexate study and 120 evaluable patients in the belinostat study. As is common, these phase 2 tests used measurements of cancer progression, known as the overall response rate.
The FDA then expects companies to show through more extensive testing that medicines cleared with accelerated approvals can deliver significant benefits, such as extending lives. When there are delays in confirmatory trials, patients can be exposed to medicines, often with significant side effects, that are unlikely to benefit them.
For example, the FDA granted an accelerated approval in 2011 for romidepsin for this use for peripheral T-cell lymphoma, the same condition for which pralatrexate and belinostat are used. But in 2021, Bristol-Myers Squibb withdrew the approval for that use of romidepsin when a confirmatory trial failed to meet the primary efficacy endpoint of progression free survival.
At the meeting, Richard Pazdur, MD, who leads oncology medicine at the FDA, urged Acrotech to shorten the time needed to determine whether its medicines deliver significant benefits to patients and thus merit full approval, or whether they too may fall short.
“We’re really in a situation where patients are caught in the middle here,” Dr. Pazdur said. “I feel very bad for that situation and very bad for the patients that they don’t have this information.”
The FDA in recent years has stepped up its efforts to get companies to complete their required studies on drugs cleared by accelerated approvals. The FDA has granted a total of 187 accelerated approvals for cancer drugs. Many of these cover new uses of established drugs and others serve to allow the introduction of new medicines.
For more than half of these cases, 96 of 187, the FDA already has learned that it made the right call in allowing early access to medicines. Companies have presented study results that confirmed the benefit of drugs and thus been able to convert accelerated approvals to traditional approvals.
But 27 of the 187 oncology accelerated approvals have been withdrawn. In these cases, subsequent research failed to establish the expected benefits of these cancer drugs.
And in 95 cases, the FDA and companies are still waiting for the results of studies to confirm the expected benefit of drugs granted accelerated approvals. The FDA classifies these as ongoing accelerated approvals. About 85% of these ongoing approvals were granted in the past 5 years, in contrast to 14 years for pralatrexate and 9 for belinostat.
“It sets a dangerous precedent for the other sponsors and drug companies to have such outliers from the same company,” said ODAC member Toni K. Choueiri, MD, of Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, both in Boston.
The current agreement between the FDA and Acrotech focuses on a phase 3 trial, SPI-BEL-301 as the confirmatory study. Acrotech’s plan is to start with dose optimization studies in part 1 of the trial, with part 2 meant to see if its medicines provide a significant benefit as measured by progression-free survival.
The plan is to compare treatments. One group of patients would get belinostat plus a common cancer regimen known as CHOP, another group would get pralatrexate plus the COP cancer regimen, which is CHOP without doxorubicin, and a third group would get CHOP.
Acrotech’s current time line is for part 1, which began in October, to finish by December 2025. Then the part 2 timeline would run from 2026 to 2030, with interim progression-free survival possible by 2028.
ODAC member Ashley Rosko, MD, a hematologist from Ohio State University, Columbus, asked Acrotech what steps it will take to try to speed recruitment for the study.
“We are going to implement many strategies,” including what’s called digital amplification, replied Ashish Anvekar, president of Acrotech. This will help identify patients and channel them toward participating clinical sites.
Alexander A. Vinks, PhD, PharmD, who served as a temporary member of ODAC for the Nov. 16 meeting, said many clinicians will not be excited about enrolling patients in this kind of large, traditionally designed study.
Dr. Vinks, who is professor emeritus at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and University of Cincinnati, now works with consultant group NDA, a firm that advises companies on developing drugs.
Dr. Vinks advised Acrotech should try “to pin down what is most likely a smaller study that could be simpler, but still give robust, informative data.”
This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.
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Publish date : 2023-11-17 21:04:20
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