FDA Approves Otezla (apremilast) for the Treatment of Oral Ulcers Associated with Behçet’s Disease

By | July 20, 2019

SUMMIT, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE) July 19, 2019 — Celgene Corporation today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Otezla (apremilast) 30 mg twice daily (BID) for the treatment of adult patients with oral ulcers associated with Behçet’s Disease. Otezla, an oral, selective inhibitor of phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4), is the first and only approved treatment option for oral ulcers associated with Behçet’s Disease, a rare, chronic, multisystem inflammatory disease that is difficult to treat.

“Oral ulcers are a recurring and debilitating manifestation that affects nearlyeveryone living with Behçet’s Disease,and have an important negative impact on the quality of life for these patients,” said Yusuf Yazici, M.D., Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, New York University Langone Health. “In the clinical trial, Otezla demonstrated improvements in measures of oral ulcers at week 12. Otezla has the potential to be a needed treatment option for U.S. patients and their physicians, who previously had limited options available.”

Behçet’s Disease, also known as Behçet’s Syndrome, affects approximately 5 in 100,000 people in the U.S.1,2 Oral ulcers, the most common manifestation of Behçet’s Disease occurring in more than 98% of patients, can be painful, disabling and negatively affect quality of life.3

“We are excited to provide the first and only FDA-approved treatment for oral ulcers associated with Behçet’s Disease,” said Terrie Curran, President, Celgene Inflammation & Immunology. “This approval is a reflection of Celgene’s commitment to research in areas of high unmet need, including rare diseases such as Behçet’s Disease. We remain dedicated to further studying Otezla and its role in inflammatory conditions.”

The FDA approval was based on efficacy and safety results from the randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind Phase 3 RELIEF™ study evaluating Otezla in 207 adult patients with Behçet’s Disease with active oral ulcers who were previously treated with at least one nonbiologic medication and were candidates for systemic therapy. Results showed Otezla 30 mg BID resulted in a 42.7 point reduction from baseline in the pain of oral ulcers as measured by the visual analog scale (VAS) at week 12, compared with an 18.7 point reduction with placebo. The proportion of patients achieving an oral ulcer complete response (oral ulcer-free) at week 12 was 52.9% in the Otezla arm and 22.3% in the placebo arm. The proportion of patients achieving oral ulcer complete response by week 6 and who remained oral ulcer-free for at least six additional weeks during the 12-week treatment phase was 29.8% in the Otezla arm and 4.9% in the placebo arm. The daily average number of oral ulcers during the 12-week treatment phase was 1.5 in the Otezla arm and 2.6 in the placebo arm (based on oral ulcer counts measured at baseline and at weeks 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12).

“Behçet’s Disease is a chronic inflammatory disease in which patients present with symptoms such as oral ulcers that can have a significant impact on daily life,” said Mirta Avila Santos, M.D., Executive Director, American Behçet’s Disease Association. “Today’s approval for Otezla marks an important milestone for people with Behçet’s Disease who have been eagerly waiting for treatment options for their oral ulcers.”

The most common adverse events observed occurring in ≥10% of patients in the RELIEF trial were diarrhea (41.3% with Otezla; 20.4% for placebo), nausea (19.2% with Otezla; 10.7% for placebo), headache (14.4% with Otezla; 10.7% for placebo) and upper respiratory tract infection (11.5% with Otezla; 4.9% for placebo). The safety profile was consistent with the known safety profile of Otezla.

Otezla is now approved for three indications in the U.S., including the treatment of patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis who are candidates for phototherapy or systemic therapy, adult patients with active psoriatic arthritis and adult patients with oral ulcers associated with Behçet’s Disease. Since its initial FDA approval in 2014, Otezla has been prescribed to more than 250,000 patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis or active psoriatic arthritis in the U.S.4

Otezla is available in the U.S. and is dispensed through a comprehensive network of specialty pharmacies. For more information about accessing Otezla and patient support services (including reimbursement assistance and 24/7 nurse support), doctors and patients can contact Otezla® SupportPlus™ at 1-844-4OTEZLA (1-844-468-3952) or visit www.OTEZLA.com for more information.

Celgene anticipates a regulatory decision for Otezla in oral ulcers associated with Behçet’s Disease from the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency in Japan in the second half of 2019. The Company also submitted a Type II Variation to the Marketing Authorization Application earlier this year seeking approval in the European Union.

About the RELIEF™ Study

The RELIEF™ study is a Phase 3 randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study evaluating Otezla 30 mg BID in 207 adult patients with Behçet’s Disease with active oral ulcers who were previously treated with at least one nonbiologic medication and were candidates for systemic therapy. This 64-week study was conducted at 53 sites across 10 countries.

In the study, 207 adult patients were randomized 1:1 to receive either Otezla 30 mg BID (n=104) or placebo (n=103) for the 12-week placebo-controlled treatment phase. Upon completion of week 12, all patients received Otezla for the 52-week active treatment phase. Efficacy was assessed based on the number and pain of oral ulcers, including the daily average number of oral ulcers during the 12-week placebo-controlled treatment phase.

About Behçet’s Disease

Behçet’s Disease is associated with abnormalities of the immune system and inflammation of the blood vessels. Behçet’s Disease is characterized by recurrent oral and genital ulcers, skin lesions, uveitis, arthritis, vascular, central nervous system and gastrointestinal involvement. Oral ulcers are present in more than 98% of Behçet’s Disease patients.

Behçet’s Disease has been classified in the U.S. as a rare or “orphan” disease by the National Institutes of Health. At this time, there are limited approved therapies to treat Behçet’s Disease in the U.S. Prevalence of Behçet’s Disease is highest in the Middle East, Asia and Japan.

About Otezla (apremilast)

Otezla® (apremilast) 30 mg tablets is an oral small-molecule inhibitor of phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) specific for cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). PDE4 inhibition results in increased intracellular cAMP levels, which is thought to indirectly modulate the production of inflammatory mediators. The specific mechanism(s) by which Otezla exerts its therapeutic action in patients is not well defined.

About Celgene

Celgene Corporation, headquartered in Summit, New Jersey, is an integrated global pharmaceutical company engaged primarily in the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative therapies for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases through next‐generation solutions in protein homeostasis, immuno‐oncology, epigenetics, immunology and neuro‐inflammation. For more information, please visit www.celgene.com. Follow Celgene on Social Media: @Celgene, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements, which are generally statements that are not historical facts. Forward-looking statements can be identified by the words “expects,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “intends,” “estimates,” “plans,” “will,” “outlook” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are based on management’s current plans, estimates, assumptions and projections, and speak only as of the date they are made. We undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statement in light of new information or future events, except as otherwise required by law. Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties, most of which are difficult to predict and are generally beyond our control. Actual results or outcomes may differ materially from those implied by the forward-looking statements as a result of the impact of a number of factors, many of which are discussed in more detail in our Annual Report on Form 10-K and our other reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including factors related to the proposed transaction between Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celgene, such as, but not limited to, the risks that: management’s time and attention is diverted on transaction related issues; disruption from the transaction make it more difficult to maintain business, contractual and operational relationships; legal proceedings are instituted against Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene or the combined company that could delay or prevent the proposed transaction; and Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene or the combined company is unable to retain key personnel.

  1. 1 Zeidan MJ, Saadoun D, Garrido M , Klatzmann D, Six A, Cacoub P. Behçet’s disease physiopathology: a contemporary review. Autoimmun Highlights. 2016;7(1):4. 
    2 Leonardo NM, McNeil J. Behçet’s disease: is there geographical variation? A review far from the Silk Road. Int J Rheumatol. 2015;2015:945262. 
    3 Medscape EMedicine. Dermatological Aspects of Behcet Disease Clinical Presentation. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1122381-clinical. Accessed February 2019. 
    4 Symphony Health Solution PrescriberSource PatientFocus, Includes all prescriptions from April 2014 through April 2019.

Source: Celgene Corporation

Posted: July 2019

Related Articles:

Otezla (apremilast) FDA Approval History

Drugs.com – New Drug Approvals