- Sunlenca is the First and Only Approved Capsid Inhibitor-Based HIV Treatment Option
- New Drug Application Approval Based on High Rates of Sustained Virologic Suppression in the CAPELLA Trial
Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD) today announced that Sunlenca® (lenacapavir), in combination with other antiretroviral(s) (ARV), has been granted approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of HIV-1 infection in heavily treatment-experienced (HTE) adults with multi-drug resistant (MDR) HIV-1 infection. Sunlenca has a multi-stage mechanism of action distinguishable from other currently approved classes of antiviral agents and no known cross resistance exhibited in vitro to other existing drug classes. Sunlenca offers a new, twice-yearly treatment option for adults with HIV that is not adequately controlled by their current treatment regimen.
“An effective antiretroviral regimen can be devised for most people living with the virus; however, some people living with HIV no longer have durable viral suppression due to resistance to multiple classes of antiretroviral therapies,” said Sorana Segal-Maurer, MD, Director of the Dr. James J. Rahal Jr. Division of Infectious Diseases at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens, Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and the Site Principal Investigator for the CAPELLA trial. “The availability of new classes of antiretroviral drugs is critical for heavily treatment-experienced people with multi-drug resistant HIV. Following today’s decision from the FDA, lenacapavir helps to fill a critical unmet need for people with complex prior treatment histories and offers physicians a long-awaited twice-yearly option for these patients who otherwise have limited therapy choices.”
Despite the significant advances in ARV therapy, there remain numerous critical and pressing unmet needs for people living with HIV. This is particularly true for individuals who are heavily treatment experienced – which account for an estimated 2% of adults living with HIV who are on treatment globally — and are unable to maintain virologic suppression due to resistance, intolerance or safety considerations. This type of complexity further increases the chance of treatment failure, underscoring the need for new treatment options that are active against resistant variants of the virus with a novel mechanism of action. Lenacapavir is a breakthrough innovation with the potential to be a preferred and versatile foundational long-acting agent due to its therapeutic potency and a range of dosing frequencies and routes of administration. Lenacapavir is being developed as a foundation for Gilead’s future HIV therapies with the goal of offering several long-acting options that help address individual needs and preferences that may help optimize outcomes and reduce burden of care. Lenacapavir is being studied in multiple ongoing early and late-stage development programs and has the potential to offer a diverse set of person-centric options for treatment and prevention that could uniquely fit into the lives of people living with HIV and people who would benefit from pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The use of lenacapavir for HIV prevention is investigational and the safety and efficacy of lenacapavir for this use have not been established.
“This news is an important milestone in the work to help end the HIV epidemic as Sunlenca is now the only FDA-approved twice-yearly treatment for people with multi-drug resistant HIV,” said Daniel O’Day, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Gilead Sciences. “Gilead scientists have developed a unique and potent antiretroviral medicine in Sunlenca with the potential for flexible dosing options. Our goal is to deliver multiple long-acting options for treatment and prevention that are tailored to the needs of people living with HIV and people who could benefit from PrEP medicines.”
The FDA approval for Sunlenca is supported by data from the Phase 2/3 CAPELLA trial, which evaluated lenacapavir in combination with an optimized background regimen in people with multi-drug resistant HIV-1 who are heavily treatment experienced. CAPELLA participants had undergone previous treatment with a median of nine antiretroviral medications. In this patient population with significant unmet medical need, 83% (n=30/36) of participants randomly allocated to receive lenacapavir in addition to an optimized background regimen achieved an undetectable viral load (<50 copies/mL) at Week 52. Additionally, these participants achieved a mean increase in CD4 count of 82 cells/μL. These data were presented at the 29th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (virtual CROI 2022).
Sunlenca was reviewed and approved as a medication with FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation, which is intended to expedite the development and review of new drugs which may demonstrate substantial improvement over available therapy. In May 2019, the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation for the development of lenacapavir for the treatment of HIV-1 infection in heavily treatment-experienced patients with multi-drug resistance in combination with other antiretroviral drugs.
Lenacapavir, alone or in combination, is not approved by any regulatory authority outside of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada or the European Union for any use. The European Marketing Authorization applies to all 27 member states of the European Union, as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Additional regulatory filings and decisions by regulatory authorities are anticipated to continue in 2023.
About CAPELLA (NCT04150068)
CAPELLA is a Phase 2/3, double-blinded, placebo-controlled global multicenter study designed to evaluate the antiviral activity of lenacapavir administered every six months as a subcutaneous injection in heavily treatment-experienced people with multi-drug resistant HIV-1 infection. CAPELLA includes men and women with HIV-1 and is being conducted at research centers in North America, Europe and Asia.
In CAPELLA, 36 participants with multi-class HIV-1 drug resistance and a detectable viral load while on a failing regimen were randomly allocated to receive oral lenacapavir or placebo in a 2:1 ratio for 14 days, in addition to continuing their failing regimen (functional monotherapy). An additional 36 participants were enrolled in a separate treatment cohort. Both cohorts are part of the ongoing maintenance period of the study evaluating the safety and efficacy of subcutaneous lenacapavir administered every six months in combination with an optimized background regimen. The primary endpoint was the proportion of participants randomly allocated to receive lenacapavir or placebo for 14 days, in addition to continuing their failing regimen, achieving â‰¥0.5 log10 copies/mL reduction from baseline in HIV-1 RNA at the end of the functional monotherapy period. The study found that 88% of participants receiving lenacapavir (n=21/24) experienced at least a 0.5 log10 reduction in HIV-1 viral load by the end of 14 days of functional monotherapy as compared with 17% of those receiving placebo (n=2/12).
Following the 14-day functional monotherapy period, participants randomly allocated to receive lenacapavir or placebo, in addition to continuing their failing regimen, started open-label lenacapavir and an optimized background regimen, while those enrolled in a separate treatment cohort received open-label lenacapavir and an optimized background regimen on Day 1. This ongoing maintenance period is evaluating the additional study endpoints of safety and efficacy of subcutaneous lenacapavir administered every six months in combination with an optimized background regimen.
About Sunlenca ®
Sunlenca (300 mg tablet and 463.5 mg/1.5 mL injection) is a first-in-class, long-acting HIV capsid inhibitor approved in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union, for the treatment of HIV infection, in combination with other antiretroviral(s), in people with multi-drug resistant HIV who are heavily treatment-experienced. Sunlenca tablets are approved for oral loading during initiation of Sunlenca treatment, prior to or at the time of the first long-acting lenacapavir injection depending on initiation option. The multi-stage mechanism of action of Sunlenca is distinguishable from other currently approved classes of antiviral agents and is designed to provide a new avenue for the development of a long-acting teatment option for individuals with multi-drug resistant HIV whose virus no longer effectively responds to therapy. While most antivirals act on just one stage of viral replication, Sunlenca is designed to inhibit HIV at multiple stages of its lifecycle and has no known cross resistance exhibited in vitro to other existing drug classes. Sunlenca is the only HIV treatment option administered twice-yearly.
U.S. Indication for Sunlenca
Sunlenca, a human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) capsid inhibitor, in combination with other antiretroviral(s), is indicated for the treatment of HIV-1 infection in heavily treatment-experienced adults with multidrug resistant HIV-1 infection failing their current antiretroviral regimen due to resistance, intolerance, or safety considerations.
Mechanism of Action-Capsid protein inhibitors
Orphan Drug Status-No
About Gilead Sciences
Gilead Sciences Inc (Gilead) is a research-based biopharmaceutical company. It is engaged in the discovery, development and commercialization of medicines for the treatment of cardiovascular, hematological and respiratory diseases, inflammation, liver diseases, cancer and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
Gilead Sciences, Inc. is an American biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Foster City, California, that focuses on researching and developing antiviral drugs used in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, influenza, and COVID-19, including ledipasvir/sofosbuvir and sofosbuvir.
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