The Food and Drug Administration has approved the interleukin-17 inhibitor secukinumab (Cosentyx) for the treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis in pediatric patients aged 6 years and older who are candidates for systemic therapy or phototherapy. The expanded indication marks the first time the drug has been available for a pediatric population in the United States.
Children with plaque psoriasis are often undertreated because of fear of side effects of therapies, according to Kelly M. Cordoro, MD, professor of dermatology and pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. “Now, more and more medicines are being tested for safety and efficacy in children, and we no longer have to rely on adult studies to inform treatment choices for children,” Cordoro told this news organization.
The FDA approval of secukinumab for children aged 6 and older with moderate to severe psoriasis “is a welcome addition to the therapeutic toolbox for pediatric psoriasis,” she said. “We’ve entered an era where severe pediatric psoriasis has become a condition that can be adequately controlled with minimal risk and with the convenience of intermittent injections. This has changed the playing field for these children and their families completely. Given the potential short- and long-term negative impact of chronic inflammation on the body of a growing child, we now have approved treatments that can safely offset the risks of undertreated severe psoriasis on the functional and psychological health of the child.”
The approved pediatric dosing for secukinumab is 75 mg or 150 mg depending on the child’s weight at the time of dosing, and it is administered by subcutaneous injection every 4 weeks after an initial loading regimen. According to a press release from Novartis, the FDA approval came on the heels of two phase 3 studies that evaluated the use of secukinumab in children aged 6 to younger than 18 years with plaque psoriasis. The first was a 52-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo- and active-controlled study which included 162 children 6 years of age and older with severe plaque psoriasis. The doses evaluated were 75 mg for children who weighed less than 50 kg and 150 mg for those 50 kg or greater.
At week 12, the Psoriasis Area Severity Index (PASI)-75 response was 55% among children in the 75-mg dosing group vs. 10% in the placebo group and 86% in the 150-mg dosing group vs. 19% in the placebo group.
Meanwhile, the Investigator’s Global Assessment modified 2011 (IGA) “clear” response was achieved in 32% of children in the 75-mg dosing group vs. 5% in the placebo group and in 81% of children in the 150-mg dosing group vs. 5% in the placebo group. An IGA “almost clear” skin response was achieved in 81% of children in the 75-mg dosing group vs. 5% in the placebo group.
The second phase 3 study was a randomized open-label, 208-week trial of 84 subjects 6 years of age and older with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. According to the Novartis press release, the safety profile reported in both trials was consistent with the safety profile reported in adult plaque psoriasis trials and no new safety signals were observed. The updated prescribing information for secukinumab can be found here.
“When considering treatment with a systemic agent such as a biologic, it is important to consider objective measures of severity, such as extent of disease and involvement of joints but also subjective indicators of severity such as impact beyond the skin on psychological well-being,” Cordoro said in the interview. “Kids with psoriasis in visible locations may socially isolate themselves due to embarrassment or bullying. Therefore, the impact of moderate to severe psoriasis not only on overall health but on self-esteem and identity formation can be significant, and therefore adequately treating children of all ages to prevent the downstream negative consequences of childhood psoriasis is critical.”
Cordoro reported having no financial disclosures.
This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.