The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Sunovion’s Kynmobi (apomorphine hydrochloride) as an on-demand sublingual treatment for off episodes, or times when medication wears off, in people with Parkinson’s disease.
The medication, formerly known as APL-130277, is an apomorphine film that is placed under-the-tongue (sublingual administration) when patients start experiencing a worsening of their symptoms. It can be taken up to five times a day, at doses ranging from 10 mg to 30 mg.
Sunovion expects it to become available to patients in the U.S. by September.
“Today’s approval of Kynmobi advances treatment options for people with Parkinson’s disease who experience OFF episodes and the associated disruption of everyday activities,” Antony Loebel, MD, president and CEO at Sunovion, said in a press release.
“We are pleased to offer the Parkinson’s disease community a novel treatment option that we believe offers a convenient way for patients to rapidly improve impaired movements and better control their motor symptoms when they need it,” Loebel added.
Levodopa is considered the gold standard for Parkinson’s treatment. But several years after starting the medication, most patients begin experiencing fluctuations in their motor symptoms caused by a faster wearing off of the treatment’s effects. These “off” episodes can happen at any time of the day, and most patients experience more than one episode each day.
Kynmobi’s active ingredient, apomorphine, can cross the blood-brain barrier, a semipermeable membrane that protects the brain from the external environment, and mimic the effects of dopamine in the brain. As such, it can counteract the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain, a hallmark of Parkinson’s.
Apokyn, by US World Meds, is an approved apomorphine injection treatment for Parkinson’s patients experiencing off episodes. Its efficacy in easing motor symptoms is established, but it can pose significant challenges to patients, such as the need for an under-the-skin injection, an initial dose titration that should be supervised in a clinic, and common side effects such as nausea and injection site complications. These challenges are thought to have limited its use.
Kynmobi is expected to provide an easier mode of administration and to be eliminate more slowly from the body, helping to ease the feeling of nausea caused by abrupt reductions in apomorphine blood levels.
“Several years after a person is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease they may notice problems such as having trouble getting out of bed in the morning or having difficulty getting out of a chair, or that they feel frozen while trying to walk as the effect of their maintenance medication diminishes,” said Stewart Factor, professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine.
“The approval of Kynmobi affords health care providers with a needed option that can be added to their patients’ medication regimen to adequately address OFF episodes as their Parkinson’s disease progresses,” Factor added.
Kynmobi’s approval was based on data from a Phase 3 study (NCT02469090), in which the oral medication was compared to placebo as an on-demand treatment of motor symptoms during off periods.
The trial included 109 patients who had at least two hours of total off periods per day, including well-defined morning off episodes, despite being responsive to levodopa treatment. In an initial open-label phase, all enrolled were given increasing doses of Kynmobi (10−35 mg) until an optimal dose was identified.
Patients were then randomly assigned to either Kynmobi or placebo, taken to treat up to five off episodes throughout a day, for 12 weeks. All continued to receive their stable anti-parkinsonian medications.
The trial’s main goal was improvements in motor symptoms — defined as changes on the Movement Disorder Society Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS) Part III — from before dosing to 30 minutes after dosing at week 12.
Results showed that patients using Kynmobi experienced an 11.1 point reduction in their MDS-UPDRS scores at week 12, while those on placebo showed reductions of 3.5 points. This 7.6-point difference between both groups was significant, and clinical improvements were seen as early as 15 minutes after dosing, and persisted for up to 90 minutes.
Kynmobi also helped more patients (31%) achieve full control of their motor symptoms — a full “on” response — within 30 minutes at week 12, compared with 14% of those given a placebo.
The treatment was generally well-tolerated, with most treatment-related side effects being mild to moderate, and reversible after its use was stopped. The most common were nausea, sleepiness, and dizziness. One person with known cardiac risk factors who was treated with Kynmobi died due to heart failure.
“We know from our research and discussions with the Parkinson’s community that OFF episodes can significantly disrupt a patient’s daily life,” said Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. “The Foundation supported early clinical development of sublingual apomorphine, and this approval brings an important new treatment option for people with PD [Parkinson’s disease] who experience OFF [periods].”
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