Ibrutinib Now Approved for Children With Chronic GVHD

Ibrutinib (Imbruvica) is now available for use in children aged 1 to 12 years who have chronic graft-vs-host disease (cGVHD), which can develop after stem cell transplantation for treatment of a blood cancer.

Specifically, the indication is for pediatric patients with cGVHD who have already been treated with one or more lines of systemic therapy.

The manufacturers have also launched a new oral suspension formulation, in addition to capsules and tablets, which were already available.

Ibrutinib is already approved for use in adults with cGVHD.

The drug is also approved for use in several blood cancers, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia, mantle cell lymphoma, and Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia. All of these approvals are for adult patients.

This is the first pediatric indication for the product and is “incredibly meaningful,” said Gauri Sunkersett, DO, associate medical director at AbbVie, which markets the drug together with Jansen. “As a pediatric oncologist, when my patients describe the physical pain they experience from simply hugging their parents, due to their cGVHD, the importance of researching alternative treatment options in this patient population is further validated.”

These children have already been through a lot, having been diagnosed with a leukemia or lymphoma and then undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy for a stem cell transplant. Just over half (52% to 65%) of children who receive allogeneic transplants go on to develop cGVHD, in which the donor bone marrow or stem cells attack the recipient.

“Imagine going through a transplant and then being told you have a moderate to severe chronic disease that can sometimes also be life-threatening,” commented Paul A. Carpenter, MD, attending physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “If these children were between 1 and 12 and didn’t respond to steroid treatment, we didn’t have any rigorously studied treatment options — until now.”

The new indication was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the basis of results from the iMAGINE trial, for which Carpenter was a principal investigator.

The phase 1/2 iMAGINE trial was an open-label, multicenter, single-arm trial conducted with 47 patients (mean age, 13 years; range, 1 – 19 years) with relapsed/refractory cGVHD who had received at least one prior systemic therapy. Ibrutinib was given at a dose of 420 mg orally once daily to patients aged 12 and older and at a dose of 240 mg/m2 orally once daily to patients who were younger than 12 years.

The overall response rate through week 25 was 60% (CI 95%, 44% to 74%). The median duration of response was 5.3 months (95% CI, 2.8 – 8.8).

The safety profile was consistent with the established profile for ibrutinib. Observed adverse events (AEs) in pediatric patients were consistent with those observed in adult patients with moderate to severe cGVHD, the companies noted.

The FDA noted that the most common (≥20%) adverse reactions, including laboratory abnormalities, were anemia, musculoskeletal pain, pyrexia, diarrhea, pneumonia, abdominal pain, stomatitis, thrombocytopenia, and headache.

Full prescribing information for ibrutinib is available here.

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