From the Journals

Secukinumab’s antipsoriatic effects confirmed in U.S. patient population



American patients with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and psoriasis who received the interleukin-17A inhibitor secukinumab (Cosentyx) as their first biologic treatment achieved the best response rate with a 300-mg dose regimen when compared with placebo, and those who up-titrated to 300 mg from the lower approved dose of 150 mg also saw benefits obtained at that level.

Researchers conducted a postmarketing trial of secukinumab in patients at U.S. centers, called CHOICE, after it was approved for psoriasis and PsA in 2015 and 2016 based on trials mainly conducted outside of the United States. The American patients in those studies “had a baseline clinical profile indicating harder-to-treat disease than the total study population, including higher body mass index (BMI), higher tender and swollen joint counts, increased prevalence of enthesitis and dactylitis, and more tumor necrosis factor inhibitor (TNFi) experience,” Tien Q. Nguyen, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in Irvine, Calif., and colleagues wrote in the Journal of Rheumatology.

In order to get a better sense of how secukinumab performs in U.S. patients who have not been treated with biologics, the researchers conducted the multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, phase 4 CHOICE trial. It recruited patients for about 26 months at 67 U.S. centers during 2016-2018. The 258 patients randomized in the study to 300 mg (n = 103), 150 mg secukinumab (n = 103), or placebo (n = 52) had a mean time since PsA diagnosis of 3.0-3.9 years and all had a mean BMI of greater than 30 kg/m2, with dactylitis present in 48% and enthesitis in 73%. About one-third were taking methotrexate at baseline.

At week 16, patients taking secukinumab 300 mg were about 3.5 times more likely to have 20% improvement in American College of Rheumatology response criteria than with placebo (51.5% vs. 23.1%), whereas the response rate with 150 mg was not significantly different from placebo (36.9%). Rates of achieving ACR50 were significantly greater for both 300- and 150-mg doses versus placebo (28.2% and 24.3% vs. 5.8%), but only 300 mg led to a statistically significant difference in the rate of ACR70 responses, compared with placebo (17.5% vs. 1.9%).

In general, efficacy based on ACR20/50/70 responses and either remission or low disease activity on the Disease Activity in Psoriatic Arthritis index was lower among patients with less than 10 tender joints and less than 10 swollen joints at baseline. Methotrexate use at baseline did not affect ACR20 rates at week 16 in patients taking secukinumab, but the effect of methotrexate on ACR20 rates was noticeable among placebo-treated patients (38.9% vs. 14.7%). Enthesitis appeared to resolve significantly more often among patients on secukinumab, and more patients on secukinumab also had their dactylitis resolve, but the difference was not statistically significant.

Patients with psoriasis affecting more than 3% of their body surface area experienced higher response rates on the Psoriasis Area Severity Index (PASI) for 75%, 90%, and 100% skin lesion clearance than did patients taking placebo.

Patients who switched from 150 mg to 300 mg secukinumab after week 16 in the second treatment period of the trial more often achieved ACR20/50/70 responses by week 52, going from 2.4% to 65.9% of the up-titration subset for ACR20 and from 0% to 34.1% for ACR50 and to 12.2% for ACR70. Patients on placebo who switched also experienced increases in these response rates out to week 52. However, BMI above 30 kg/m2 led to numerically lower ACR50, ACR70, and PASI response rates at week 52.

The researchers noted that the response rates observed in CHOICE were lower than for the pivotal trials used for Food and Drug Administration approval for PsA, which “may have been due to patients in CHOICE having higher disease activity scores at baseline, compared with TNFi-naive patients” in the pivotal trials.

The safety profile of secukinumab appeared to be no different from what has been reported previously. The researchers said that, throughout the 52-week study, the most common adverse events in patients receiving secukinumab were upper respiratory tract infection in about 13% and diarrhea in about 7%. Most adverse events were mild or moderate, with serious adverse events occurring in 9.6% of patients taking secukinumab 300 mg and in 7.8% of patients taking secukinumab 150 mg over the 52 weeks.

“Overall, the findings from CHOICE were consistent with previous studies and demonstrated that secukinumab provides significant and sustained improvements in signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Our findings suggest that secukinumab 300 mg is safe and efficacious as a first-line biologic treatment for patients with PsA. Further studies will also help determine the optimal dose of secukinumab for treating overweight patients or those with high disease activity at treatment initiation,” the authors wrote.

The study was funded by Novartis, which manufactures secukinumab. Dr. Nguyen and some coauthors reported serving as a consultant, investigator, and/or speaker for numerous pharmaceutical companies, including Novartis.

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