Genentech Announces FDA Approval of Clinical Trial for Actemra to Treat Hospitalized Patients With Severe COVID-19 Pneumonia
Genentech will also provide 10,000 vials of Actemra to the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile
Current U.S. supply of Actemra for approved indications is not expected to be impacted
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Genentech, Inc., a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), announced today the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase III clinical trial in collaboration with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to evaluate the safety and efficacy of intravenous Actemra® (tocilizumab) plus standard of care in hospitalized adult patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia.
Additionally, to further support U.S. COVID-19 response efforts, Genentech will provide 10,000 vials of Actemra to the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile for potential future use at the direction of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The company has robust business continuity and mitigation strategies in place, and current U.S. supply of Actemra for approved indications is not expected to be impacted. Genentech has also been working with distributors to manage product supply to enable both Genentech and our distribution partners to quickly fill orders to meet patient needs.
“We thank the FDA for rapidly expediting the approval of this clinical trial to evaluate Actemra in critically ill patients suffering from pneumonia following coronavirus infection and we’re moving forward to enroll as quickly as possible,” said Alexander Hardy, chief executive officer of Genentech. "Conducting this clinical trial in partnership with BARDA and providing Actemra to support the national stockpile, through the efforts of Secretary Azar and HHS, are important examples of how the U.S. government, the biotechnology industry and healthcare communities are working together in response to this public health crisis.”
To date, several independent clinical trials have begun globally to explore the efficacy and safety of Actemra for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. However, this new trial is vital because there are no well-controlled studies and limited published evidence on the safety or efficacy of Actemra in the treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19. In addition, Actemra is not currently approved for this use by the FDA.
For more information on how Genentech is responding to the global COVID-19 pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 response page.
About the Clinical Trial
Genentech is initiating a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase III study (COVACTA) to evaluate the safety and efficacy of intravenous Actemra added to standard of care in adult patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 pneumonia compared to placebo plus standard of care. The primary and secondary endpoints include clinical status, mortality, mechanical ventilation and intensive care unit (ICU) variables. Patients will be followed for 60 days post-randomization, and an interim analysis will be conducted to look for early evidence of efficacy.
Actemra was the first humanized interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor antagonist approved for the treatment of adult patients with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who have used one or more disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), such as methotrexate (MTX), that did not provide enough relief. The extensive Actemra RA IV clinical development program included five Phase III clinical studies and enrolled more than 4,000 people with RA in 41 countries. The Actemra RA subcutaneous clinical development program included two Phase III clinical studies and enrolled more than 1,800 people with RA in 33 countries. Actemra subcutaneous injection is also approved for the treatment of adult patients with giant cell arteritis (GCA) and for patients two years of age and older with active polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (PJIA) or active systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA). In addition, Actemra is also approved in the IV formulation for patients two years of age and older with active PJIA, SJIA or CAR T cell-induced cytokine release syndrome (CRS). Actemra is not approved for subcutaneous use in people with CRS. It is not known if Actemra is safe and effective in children with PJIA, SJIA or CRS under two years of age or in children with conditions other than PJIA, SJIA or CRS.
Actemra is intended for use under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner.
Important Safety Information
Actemra can cause serious side effects. Actemra changes the way a patient’s immune system works. This can make a patient more likely to get infections or make any current infection worse. Some people taking Actemra have died from these infections.
Actemra can cause other serious side effects. These include:
- Tears of the stomach or intestines
- Liver problems (hepatotoxicity)
- Changes in blood test results, including low neutrophil (white blood cells) and platelet (platelets help the blood to clot) counts, and increases in certain liver function test levels and blood cholesterol levels
- An increased risk of certain cancers by changing the way a patient’s immune system works
- Hepatitis B infection
- Serious allergic reactions, including death. These may happen with Actemra infusions or injections, even if they did not occur with an earlier infusion or injection. If a patient has had hives, a rash, or experienced flushing after injecting, the patient should tell their doctor or nurse before their next injection
- Nervous system problems
Patients should not receive Actemra if they are allergic to Actemra or if they have had a bad reaction to Actemra previously.
Most common side effects in patients treated with Actemra:
Patients should tell their doctor if they have these or any other side effect that bothers them or does not go away:
- Upper respiratory tract infections (like common cold and sinus infections)
- Increased blood pressure (also called hypertension)
- Injection site reactions
Actemra & pregnancy:
Patients should tell their doctor if they are planning to become pregnant, are pregnant, plan to breastfeed, or are breastfeeding. The patient and their doctor should decide if the patient will take Actemra or breastfeed. Patients should not do both. If a patient is pregnant and taking Actemra, they should join the pregnancy registry. To learn more, patients should call 1-877-311-8972 or talk to their doctor to register.
Patients should tell their doctor right away if they are experiencing any side effects. Report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or http://www.FDA.gov/medwatch. Report side effects to Genentech at 1-888-835-2555.
Please visit http://www.actemra.com for the full Prescribing Information, including Boxed Warning and Medication Guide, for additional Important Safety Information or call 1-800-ACTEMRA (228-3672).
Actemra is part of a co-development agreement with Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. and has been approved in Japan since June 2005. Actemra is approved in the European Union, where it is known as RoActemra, and several other countries, including China, India, Brazil, Switzerland and Australia.
Founded more than 40 years ago, Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious and life-threatening medical conditions. The company, a member of the Roche Group, has headquarters in South San Francisco, California. For additional information about the company, please visit http://www.gene.com.
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