FDA Approves Faricimab to Treat Wet AMD and DME

This represents the approval of the first bispecific antibody to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular edema (DME).

The FDA has approved faricimab-svoa (Vabysmo; Genentech) to treat 2 leading causes of vision loss: wet, or neovascular, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular edema (DME).

After 4 initial monthly doses, faricimab is delivered as injections from 1 to 4 months apart in the first year while the current standard of care for wet AMD and DME requires injections every 1 to 2 months. In wet AMD, patients receive the 4 monthly injections first and then based on outcomes may receive their subsequent treatments every 2, 3, or 4 months. For DME, after the 4 initial monthly injections, treatment is extended or reduced based on outcomes, with a range of 1 to 4 months between doses.

The treatment targets and inhibits pathways involving angiopoietin-2 and vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A), which are thought to contribute to vision loss by destabilizing blood vessels.

“Vabysmo represents an important step forward for ophthalmology. It is the first bispecific antibody approved for the eye and a major advance in treating retinal conditions such as wet AMD and diabetic macular edema,” Charles Wykoff, MD, PhD, director of research at Retina Consultants of Texas in Houston and a Vabysmo phase 3 investigator, said in a statement. “With Vabysmo, we now have the opportunity to offer patients a medicine that could improve their vision, potentially lowering treatment burden with fewer injections over time.”

The FDA approved faricimab on the results from 4 phase 3 studies: TENAYA and LUCERNE for wet AMD and YOSEMITE and RHINE for DME. All 4 studies were randomized, multicenter, double-masked, global trials.

TENAYA and LUCERNE were identical: 1329 treatment-naive patients with wet AMD, aged 50 and older, were assigned 1:1 to faricimab up to every 16 weeks or aflibercept every 8 weeks. YOSEMITE and RHINE were also identical: 1891 patients with vision loss due to DME were randomly assigned 1:1:1 to faricimab every 8 weeks, faricimab per personalized treatment interval, or aflibercept every 8 weeks.

For all trials, faricimab was noninferior to aflibercept and the incidence of ocular adverse events was comparable. The researchers determined that the longer time between dosing intervals combined with the visual benefits of faricimab reduced the burden in patients.

The 1-year results from these studies were published January 24 in The Lancet.1,2

“These data published in The Lancet reinforce the potential of faricimab as an important treatment option that may help improve and maintain vision while extending the time between treatments up to 4 months,” Levi Garraway, MD, PhD, chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development, said in a statement. “We remain deeply committed to developing new medicines such as faricimab that may help preserve sight in many people living with serious retinal conditions.”

Now that faricimab is approved, Genentech expects it to become available in the United States within weeks. Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency is currently evaluating a Marketing Authorization Application for faricimab to treat wet AMD and DME.

There are additional trials—COMINO and BALATON—underway to evaluate the efficacy and safety of faricimab in people with macular edema following retinal vein occlusion. In addition, 2-year results for faricimab in DME will be presented at the Angiogeneisis, Exudation, and Degeneration 2022 meeting in February.

References

1. Heier JS, Khanani AM, Quezada Ruiz C, et al; TENAYA and LUCERNE Investigators. Efficacy, durability, and safety of intravitreal faricimab up to every 16 weeks for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (TENAYA and LUCERNE): two randomised, double-masked, phase 3, non-inferiority trials. Lancet. Published January 24, 2022. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(22)00010-1

2. Wykoff CC, Abreu F, Adamis AP, et al. Efficacy, durability, and safety of intravitreal faricimab with extended dosing up to every 16 weeks in patients with diabetic macular oedema (YOSEMITE and RHINE): two randomised, double-masked, phase 3 trials. Lancet. Published online January 24, 2022. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(22)00018-6