GSK and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases have some good news released on Thanksgivng Day and its name is Nucala.
Vasculitis is a tough and not fully understood condition. One of its rarer forms EGPA (eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis), known for years as Churg-Strauss Syndrome, is especially tough with few treatment options. The inflammation of small and medium blood vessels often causes tissue and cell damage and the over production of eosinophils (white blood cells which usually work to fight infection). This leads to asthma and peripheral nerve damage as well as sinusitis and temporary infiltrates in the lungs. It can cause inflammation of the heart muscle and heart attacks.
Between one and three people out of every 100,000 are diagnosed with EGPA. It is usually treated with corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and cytotoxic drugs. The long term use of these medications of course, brings its own challenges. The good news is that in 2017 there may be a new treatment option.
A phase III, double blind, randomized clinical trial used the drug Nucala, already approved for severe, refractory asthma with an eosinophilic phenotype, showed that 32% of patients receiving Nucala, were much more likely to achieve a remission than those on the placebo (3%). Additionally, they were less likely to relapse.
Now 32% is not huge number, but when you are fighting a disease like Churg-Strauss, having one more option to try is a great thing. Additionally, because it is already being manufactured, once it is FDA approved for this new use, it should be available more quickly than a medication that has to have a start-up! The average time from a laboratory to having a new medication in your hands is 12 years and patients often don’t have that long. The advantage of finding an expanded use for an already manufactured drug is that you may be able to use it soon!
Nucala could be covered by your insurance for EGPA as soon as 2017!!