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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor upadacitinib (Rinvoq) for adults with nonradiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA) who have objective signs of inflammation and who have had an inadequate response to or are intolerant of one or more tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors, according to an announcement from the manufacturer, AbbVie.

The indication is the sixth in the US for the JAK inhibitor. Upadacitinib 15 mg once daily is already approved in the US for adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA), sotalol a blood thinner active psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and active ankylosing spondylitis (AS). All these indications are for patients who have had an inadequate response to or are intolerant of one or more TNF inhibitors.

Upadacitinib is now the only JAK inhibitor that has been approved for both nr-axSpA and AS.

“Many patients living with nr-axSpA continue to experience symptoms and are unable to control disease with current treatments. In the SELECT-AXIS 2 trials, Rinvoq demonstrated efficacy in both nr-axSpA and AS with safety that was consistent across indications,” Atul Deodhar, MD, lead investigator of the trial, said in the announcement. “Today’s FDA approval offers an important new therapeutic option for patients and their caregivers to help take control of their symptoms and disease.”

Upadacitinib is also approved at a dose of 15 mg once daily for adults and children 12 years of age and older who weigh at least 40 kg and who have refractory, moderate to severe atopic dermatitis that is not adequately controlled with other systemic drug products, including biologics, or when use of those therapies is inadvisable.

It is also approved at 45 mg once daily for 8 weeks as an induction therapy for adult patients with moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis who have had an inadequate response to or are intolerant of one or more TNF blockers. Following induction therapy for patients with ulcerative colitis, the recommended dose for maintenance treatment is 15 mg once daily, but a dose of 30 mg once daily may be considered for patients with refractory, severe, or extensive disease.

The FDA’s decision is supported by data from the phase 3 SELECT-AXIS 2 clinical trial, which assessed the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of upadacitinib in adults with active nr-axSpA.

Nearly half of patients treated with upadacitinib had achieved 40% improvement in Assessment of Spondyloarthritis International Society response criteria (ASAS 40), the primary endpoint, at week 14, compared with placebo (44.9% vs 22.3%). These responses were observed in as early as 2 weeks after initiation of therapy. The safety profile was consistent with what’s known in patients with RA, PsA, and AS.

Upadacitinib can lower the ability to fight infections. Serious infections, some fatal, have occurred, including tuberculosis (TB) and infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. It is associated with an increased risk of death and major cardiovascular events in people aged 50 and older who have at least one heart disease risk factor, and it is associated with an increased risk of some cancers, including lymphoma and skin cancers.

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