FDA approves Albiglutide [Tanzeum] to treat type 2 diabetes

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April 16, 2014 – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  yesterday  approved Tanzeum (albiglutide) subcutaneous injection to improve glycemic control, along with diet and exercise, in adults with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes affects approximately 24 million people and accounts for more than 90 percent of diabetes cases diagnosed in the United States. Over time, high blood sugar levels can increase the risk for serious complications, including heart disease, blindness, and nerve and kidney damage. “Tanzeum is a new treatment option for the millions of Americans living with type 2 diabetes,” said Curtis Rosebraugh, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Office of Drug Evaluation II in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “It can be used alone or added to existing treatment regimens to control blood sugar levels in the overall management of diabetes.”

Tanzeum is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, a hormone that helps normalize blood sugar levels. The drug’s safety and effectiveness were evaluated in eight clinical trials involving more than 2,000 patients with type 2 diabetes. Patients participating in the trials showed an improvement in their HbA1c level (hemoglobin A1c or glycosylated hemoglobin, a measure of blood sugar control). Tanzeum has been studied as a stand-alone therapy and in combination with other type 2 diabetes therapies, including metformin, glimepiride, pioglitazone, and insulin. Tanzeum should not be used to treat people with type 1 diabetes; those who have increased ketones in their blood or urine (diabetic ketoacidosis); or as first-line therapy for patients who can’t be managed with diet and exercise.

Tanzeum has a Boxed Warning to warn that tumors of the thyroid gland (thyroid C-cell tumors) have been observed in rodent studies with some GLP-1 receptor agonists, but that it is unknown whether Tanzeum causes thyroid C-cell tumors, including a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), in humans. Tanzeum should not be used in patients with a personal or family history of MTC or in patients with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (a disease where patients have tumors in more than one gland in their body and that predisposes them to MTC).
The FDA is requiring the following post-marketing studies for Tanzeum:

  • a clinical trial to evaluate dosing, efficacy, and safety in pediatric patients;
  • a medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) case registry of at least 15 years duration to identify any increase in MTC incidence related to Tanzeum;
  • a cardiovascular outcomes trial (CVOT) to evaluate the cardiovascular risk of Tanzeum in patients with high baseline risk of cardiovascular disease.

In clinical trials, the most common side effects observed in patients treated with Tanzeum were diarrhea, nausea, and injection site reactions. The FDA approved Tanzeum with a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS), which consists of a communication plan to inform health care providers about the serious risks associated with Tanzeum.

Tanzeum is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, L.L.C., Wilmington, Del.

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Joseph Gut - thasso Ph.D.; Professor in Pharmacology and Toxicology. Senior expert in theragenomic and personalized medicine and individualized drug safety. Senior expert in pharmaco- and toxicogenetics. Senior expert in human safety of drugs, chemicals, environmental pollutants, and dietary ingredients.

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