FDA Approves New Drug for Ulcerative Colitis

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved etrasimod (Velsipity, Pfizer) for treating moderate to severe active ulcerative colitis (UC) in adults, the company announced on Friday.

Etrasimod is an oral sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) receptor that binds with high affinity to receptors 1, 4, and 5. The approved recommended dose is 2 mg once daily.

Etrasimod is the second agent in the S1P class approved for UC in the United States. The other agent, ozanimod (Zeposia, Bristol-Myers Squibb), received FDA approval for moderately to severely active UC in May 2021.

The approval of etrasimod was based on safety and efficacy data from two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 trials ― ELEVATE UC 52 trial, and the ELEVATE UC 12 trial. The Lancet published full results from the two trials on March 2.

Both trials enrolled patients with UC who had previously failed or were intolerant of at least one conventional, biologic, or Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor therapy.

In ELEVATE UC 52, clinical remission at 12 weeks occurred in 27% of patients taking etrasimod, vs 7% of patients taking a placebo (20% difference; P ˂ .001). At week 52, remission rates were 32% with active treatment, vs 7% with placebo (26% difference; P ˂ .001).

In ELEVATE UC 12, clinical remission was achieved among 26% of patients who received etrasimod, vs 15.0% of patients who received placebo (11% difference; P < .05).

Statistically significant improvements were also observed with etrasimod (vs placebo) on all key secondary endpoints, including endoscopic improvement and mucosal healing at weeks 12 and 52, and corticosteroid-free remission and sustained clinical remission at week 52.

The most common side effects of etrasimod are headache, elevated values on liver tests, worsening of UC, SARS-CoV-2 infection, dizziness, pyrexia, arthralgia, abdominal pain, and nausea. Full prescribing information is available online.

Etrasimod is “a proven advanced treatment with a favorable benefit-risk profile,” Michael Chiorean, MD, co-director of the IBD Center at Swedish Medical Center, Seattle, Washington, who is an investigator in the ELEVATE studies, said in a Pfizer news release.

“UC can affect patients differently and many people living with this disease struggle with ongoing symptoms. The introduction of a new treatment for UC could increase options for patients, and we look forward to seeing the impact of Velsipity for patients across the US,” added Michael Osso, president and CEO of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.

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