The First Biologic Approved to Treat PMR: A Clinical Deep Dive

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The First Biologic Approved to Treat PMR: A Clinical Deep Dive



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Get the latest insights on the first biologic approved to treat polymyalgia rheumatica.

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  • Overview

    What do we need to know about a treatment option for polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR)? Dr. Robert Spiera takes a look at this biologic and shares the latest data from the SAPHYR trial, which analyzed the response of 59 patients treated with KEVZARA and 58 patients treated with Placebo.

    This speaker is being compensated by Sanofi and Regeneron.


    KEVZARA is indicated for treatment of adult patients with:

    • moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who have had an inadequate response or intolerance to one or more disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
    • polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) who have had an inadequate response to corticosteroids or who cannot tolerate corticosteroid taper.




    Patients treated with KEVZARA are at increased risk for developing serious infections that may lead to hospitalization or death. Opportunistic infections have also been reported in patients receiving KEVZARA. Most patients who developed infections were taking concomitant immunosuppressants such as methotrexate or corticosteroids.

    Avoid use of KEVZARA in patients with an active infection.

    Reported infections include:

    • Active tuberculosis, which may present with pulmonary or extrapulmonary disease. Patients should be tested for latent tuberculosis before KEVZARA use and during therapy. Treatment for latent infection should be initiated prior to KEVZARA use.
    • Invasive fungal infections, such as candidiasis, and pneumocystis. Patients with invasive fungal infections may present with disseminated, rather than localized, disease.
    • Bacterial, viral and other infections due to opportunistic pathogens.

    Closely monitor patients for signs and symptoms of infection during treatment with KEVZARA. If a serious infection develops, interrupt KEVZARA until the infection is controlled.

    Consider the risks and benefits of treatment with KEVZARA prior to initiating therapy in patients with chronic or recurrent infection.

    Do not use KEVZARA in patients with known hypersensitivity to sarilumab or any of the inactive ingredients.

    Infections. Serious and sometimes fatal infections due to bacterial, mycobacterial, invasive fungal, viral, or other  opportunistic pathogens have been reported in patients receiving immunosuppressive agents including KEVZARA. The most frequently observed serious infections with KEVZARA included pneumonia and cellulitis. Among opportunistic infections, TB, candidiasis, and pneumocystis were reported with KEVZARA. 

    • Hold treatment with KEVZARA if a patient develops a serious infection or an opportunistic infection.
    • Patients with latent TB should be treated with standard antimycobacterial therapy before initiating KEVZARA. Consider anti-TB therapy prior to initiation of KEVZARA in patients with a past history of latent or active TB in whom an adequate course of treatment cannot be confirmed, and for patients with a negative test for latent TB but having risk factors for TB infection.
    • Consider the risks and benefits of treatment prior to initiating KEVZARA in patients who have: chronic or recurrent infection, a history of serious or opportunistic infections, underlying conditions that may predispose them to infection, been exposed to TB, or lived in or traveled to areas of endemic TB or endemic mycoses.
    • Viral reactivation has been reported with immunosuppressive biologic therapies. Cases of herpes zoster were observed in clinical studies with KEVZARA.

    Laboratory Abnormalities. Treatment with KEVZARA was associated with decreases in absolute neutrophil counts (including neutropenia), and platelet counts; and increases in transaminase levels and lipid parameters (LDL, HDL cholesterol, and/or triglycerides). Increased frequency and magnitude of these elevations were observed when potentially hepatotoxic drugs (e.g., MTX) were used in combination with KEVZARA. Assess neutrophil count, platelet count, and ALT/AST levels prior to initiation with KEVZARA. Monitor these parameters 4 to 8 weeks after start of therapy and every 3 months thereafter. Assess lipid parameters 4 to 8 weeks after start of therapy, then at 6 month intervals.

    Gastrointestinal Perforation. GI perforation risk may be increased with concurrent diverticulitis or concomitant use of NSAIDs or corticosteroids. Gastrointestinal perforations have been reported in clinical studies, primarily as complications of diverticulitis. Promptly evaluate patients presenting with new onset abdominal symptoms.

    Immunosuppression. Treatment with immunosuppressants may result in an increased risk of malignancies. The impact of  treatment with KEVZARA on the development of malignancies is not known but malignancies have been reported in clinical studies.

    Hypersensitivity Reactions. Hypersensitivity reactions have been reported in association with KEVZARA. Hypersensitivity reactions that required treatment discontinuation were reported in 0.3% of patients in controlled RA trials. Injection site rash, rash, and urticaria were the most frequent hypersensitivity reactions. Advise patients to seek immediate medical attention if they experience any symptoms of a hypersensitivity reaction. If anaphylaxis or other hypersensitivity reaction occurs, stop administration of KEVZARA immediately. Do not administer KEVZARA to patients with known hypersensitivity to sarilumab.

    Active Hepatic Disease and Hepatic Impairment. Treatment with KEVZARA is not recommended in patients with active hepatic disease or hepatic impairment, as treatment with KEVZARA was associated with transaminase elevations.

    Live Vaccines. Avoid concurrent use of live vaccines during treatment with KEVZARA due to potentially increased risk of infections. No data are available on the secondary transmission of infection from persons receiving live vaccines to patients receiving KEVZARA.

    For Rheumatoid Arthritis: The most common serious adverse reactions were infections. The most frequently observed serious infections included pneumonia and cellulitis. The most common adverse reactions (occurred in at least 3% of patients treated with KEVZARA + DMARDs) are neutropenia, increased ALT, injection site erythema, upper respiratory infections, and urinary tract infections.

    For Polymyalgia Rheumatica:
    Serious adverse reactions of neutropenia occurred in 2 patients (3.4%) in the KEVZARA group compared to none in the placebo group. The proportion of patients with serious infections was similar in the KEVZARA group (5.1%) compared to the placebo group (5.2%). The common adverse reactions occurring in ≥5% of patients treated with KEVZARA were neutropenia, leukopenia, constipation, rash pruritic, myalgia, fatigue, and injection site pruritus.

    Exercise caution when KEVZARA is co-administered with CYP substrates with a narrow therapeutic index (e.g. warfarin or theophylline), or with CYP3A4 substrates (e.g. oral contraceptives or statins) as there may be a reduction in exposure which may reduce the activity of the CYP3A4 substrate.

    Elevated interleukin-6 (IL-6) concentration may down-regulate CYP activity such as in patients with RA and hence increase drug levels compared to subjects without RA. Blockade of IL-6 signaling by IL-6Rα antagonists such as KEVZARA might reverse the inhibitory effect of IL-6 and restore CYP activity, leading to altered drug concentrations.

    KEVZARA should be used in pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Because monoclonal antibodies could be excreted in small amounts in human milk, the benefits of breastfeeding and the potential adverse effects on the breastfed child should be considered along with the mother’s clinical need for KEVZARA.

    Use caution when treating the elderly.

    Please click here to see full Prescribing Information, including Boxed WARNING.

    © 2023 Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. All rights reserved.


Schedule14 Jul 2024