GlaxoSmithKline ViiV Healthcare’s Cabenuva for HIV approved by FDA


GlaxoSmithKline plc (LON:GSK) ViiV Healthcare, the global specialist HIV company majority owned by GSK with Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and Shionogi Limited as shareholders, has announced that the US Food and Drug Administration approved Cabenuva, the first and only complete long-acting regimen for the treatment of HIV-1 infection in adults.

Cabenuva is provided as a co-pack with two injectable medicines – ViiV Healthcare’s cabotegravir and Janssen’s rilpivirine – dosed once monthly, as an option to replace the current antiretroviral (ARV) regimen in those who are virologically suppressed (HIV-1 RNA less than 50 copies per milliliter [mL]) on a stable regimen, with no history of treatment failure, and with no known or suspected resistance to either cabotegravir or rilpivirine. Prior to initiating treatment of Cabenuva, oral dosing of cabotegravir and rilpivirine should be administered for approximately one month to assess the tolerability of each therapy.1

Lynn Baxter, Head of North America, ViiV Healthcare, said: “Today’s FDA approval of Cabenuva represents a shift in the way HIV is treated, offering people living with HIV a completely new approach to care. Cabenuva reduces the treatment dosing days from 365 days to 12 days per year. At ViiV Healthcare, we are dedicated to ensuring no one living with HIV is left behind, and adding this first-of-its-kind regimen to our industry-leading portfolio of innovative medicines reinforces our mission.” 

The approval of Cabenuva is based on the pivotal phase III ATLAS (Antiretroviral Therapy as Long-Acting Suppression) and FLAIR (First Long-Acting Injectable Regimen) studies that included more than 1,100 patients from 16 countries. Prior to initiating treatment with Cabenuva, oral dosing of cabotegravir and rilpivirine (lead-in) was administered for approximately one month to assess the tolerability of each therapy. In these studies, Cabenuva was as effective in maintaining viral suppression as continuing a daily oral three-drug regimen when injected intramuscularly in the buttocks once a month throughout the 48-week study period. In both studies, the most common adverse reactions (Grades 1 to 4) observed in ≥ 2% of clinical trial participants receiving Cabenuva were injection site reactions, pyrexia, fatigue, headache, musculoskeletal pain, nausea, sleep disorders, dizziness and rash. Serious adverse events occurred in 4% (24/591) of patients taking Cabenuva, and 3% (17/591) of adverse events led to withdrawal.1

Cabenuva was preferred by nine out of 10 patients over their previous daily oral therapy in these pivotal studies. Patient preference data was collected from clinical trial participants who received Cabenuva. In a pooled exploratory analysis of this Intent-to-Treat Exposed (ITT-E) population, 532 patients completed a single-item question at Week 48 (59 patients did not) and 88% (523/591) preferred Cabenuva compared with two percent (9/591) who preferred their previous ARV treatment. The results were descriptive in nature and are not intended to imply clinical significance.2,3

Dr. David Wohl, professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases in Chapel Hill, said: “Among the scientific community, we recognize the innovation behind Cabenuva is truly meaningful. Not only is it the first, complete long-acting regimen, which allows for a dramatic reduction in the frequency of dosing, but it also was preferred by most clinical trial participants when compared to their prior daily oral regimens. The FDA approval of Cabenuva underscores the value of community-centric research and I am pleased this new option will be available for those living with HIV.”

To support the successful delivery of the once-monthly regimen to people living with HIV (PLHIV), ViiV Healthcare sponsored the CUSTOMIZE trial, the first-ever, pre-approval implementation science study to identify and evaluate approaches to integrate Cabenuva into clinical practices in the US. Interim findings presented at AIDS2020 demonstrated that at four months, the majority of clinical staff participants continued to perceive the implementation of Cabenuva as highly acceptable, feasible and appropriate for PLHIV, and clinical staff had a substantial decrease in what they thought would be barriers to implementation of the injectable regimen.4

Brett Andrews, CEO of PRC, said: “PRC provides legal, workforce and behavioral health services for those affected by HIV/AIDS in San Francisco. For years, many of our clients have struggled to manage their health while working to stabilize key aspects of their lives. Cabenuva will provide some people living with HIV greater freedom to pursue vocational, educational and other opportunities, like travel, without the need for daily oral medication management. A long-acting regimen is an innovation we have been waiting for.”

ViiV Healthcare will begin shipping Cabenuva to wholesalers and specialty distributors in the US in February 2021. 

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The New Drug Application for Vocabria (cabotegravir) 30 milligram (mg) oral tablets was also approved by the FDA. Vocabria is indicated, in combination with rilpivirine tablets, as a complete regimen for short-term treatment of HIV-1 infection in adults who are virologically stable and suppressed (HIV-1 RNA less than 50 copies/mL) on a stable ARV regimen with no history of treatment failure and with no known or suspected resistance to either cabotegravir or rilpivirine, for use as an oral lead-in to assess tolerability of cabotegravir prior to initiating Cabenuva and as an oral therapy for patients who will miss planned injection dosing of Cabenuva.

ViiV Healthcare is a global specialist HIV company established in November 2009 by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer dedicated to delivering advances in treatment and care for people living with HIV and for people who are at risk of becoming infected with HIV. 

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