Eisai Completes Submission of LEQEMBI® (lecanemab-irmb) Supplemental Biologics License Application for IV Maintenance Dosing for the Treatment of Early Alzheimer's Disease to the U.S. FDA

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TOKYO and CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 31, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Eisai Co., Ltd. (Headquarters: Tokyo, CEO: Haruo Naito, "Eisai") and Biogen Inc. (Nasdaq: BIIB, Corporate headquarters: Cambridge, Massachusetts, CEO: Christopher A. Viehbacher, "Biogen") announced today that Eisai submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a Supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) for monthly lecanemab-irmb (U.S. brand name: LEQEMBI®) intravenous (IV) maintenance dosing. LEQEMBI is indicated for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD) in patients with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia stage of disease (collectively referred to as early AD).  

As part of the monthly IV maintenance regimen, the patients who have completed the biweekly IV initiation phase, exact period under discussion with the FDA, would receive a monthly IV dose that maintains effective drug concentration to sustain the clearance of highly toxic protofibrils* which can continue to cause neuronal injury even after the amyloid-beta (Aβ) plaque has been cleared from the brain. The sBLA is based on modeling of observed data from the Phase 2 study (Study 201) and its open-label extension (OLE) as well as Clarity AD study (Study 301) and its OLE study.  

Eisai had aimed to submit a Biologics License Application (BLA) for weekly maintenance therapy using subcutaneous (SC) administration in March 2024. To respond to the FDA's recent requirement of additional three-month immunogenicity data at the proposed maintenance dose of 360 mg weekly, Eisai planned to initiate a rolling BLA for lecanemab SC maintenance in March 2024, under the existing Fast Track and Breakthrough Therapy designations. However, Eisai was recently informed by the FDA that a Fast Track designation specific for the SC formulation is needed to receive rolling review. Following the guidance, Eisai submitted a request for Fast Track designation for the SC formulation and will initiate a rolling submission should the FDA grant this designation. The Fast Track designation will be determined within 60 days from the March 2024 submission.

AD is an ongoing neurotoxic process that begins before and continues after plaque deposition. There is an urgency to treat early AD because early and ongoing treatment can slow the progression of AD and continuing treatment may prolong the benefit even after plaque is cleared from the brain. The earlier Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) due to AD and mild AD dementia are diagnosed and treated, the greater the opportunity for the patient to benefit. Continued maintenance dosing is intended to maintain the clinical and biomarker benefits with a dosing regimen that may be more convenient for some patients and their care partners. 

LEQEMBI is now approved in the U.S., Japan and China, and applications have been submitted for review in the European Union, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Great Britain, India, Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Switzerland. Eisai serves as the lead for lecanemab's development and regulatory submissions globally with both companies co-commercializing and co-promoting the product and Eisai having final decision-making authority.  

* Protofibrils are believed to contribute to the brain injury that occurs with AD and are considered to be the most toxic form of Aβ, having a primary role in the cognitive decline associated with this progressive, debilitating condition.1 Protofibrils cause injury to neurons in the brain, which in turn, can negatively impact cognitive function via multiple mechanisms, not only increasing the development of insoluble Aβ plaques but also increasing direct damage to brain cell membranes and the connections that transmit signals between nerve cells or nerve cells and other cells. It is believed the reduction of protofibrils may prevent the progression of AD by reducing damage to neurons in the brain and cognitive dysfunction. 2  

U.S. INDICATION AND IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATIONLEQEMBI (lecanemab-irmb) 100 mg/ml injection for intravenous (IV) use is indicated for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Treatment with LEQEMBI should be initiated in patients with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia stage of disease, the population in which treatment was initiated in clinical trials.

                                                                         WARNING: AMYLOID RELATED IMAGING ABNORMALITIES (ARIA)

  • Monoclonal antibodies directed against aggregated forms of amyloid beta, including LEQEMBI, can cause amyloid related imaging abnormalities (ARIA), characterized as ARIA with edema (ARIA-E) and ARIA with hemosiderin deposition (ARIA-H). Incidence and timing of ARIA vary among treatments. ARIA usually occurs early in treatment and is usually asymptomatic, although serious and life-threatening events rarely can occur. Serious intracerebral hemorrhages >1 cm, some of which have been fatal, have been observed in patients treated with this class of medications.
  • Apolipoprotein E ε4 (ApoE ε4) Homozygotes: Patients who are ApoE ε4 homozygotes (approximately 15% of Alzheimer's disease patients) treated with this class of medications, including LEQEMBI, have a higher incidence of ARIA, including symptomatic, serious, and severe radiographic ARIA, compared to heterozygotes and noncarriers. Testing for ApoE ε4 status should be performed prior to initiation of treatment to inform the risk of developing ARIA. Prior to testing, prescribers should discuss with patients the risk of ARIA across genotypes and the implications of genetic testing results. Prescribers should inform patients that if genotype testing is not performed, they can still be treated with LEQEMBI; however, it cannot be determined if they are ApoE ε4 homozygotes and at higher risk for ARIA.
  • Consider the benefit of LEQEMBI for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and potential risk of serious adverse events associated with ARIA when deciding to initiate treatment with LEQEMBI

CONTRAINDICATIONLEQEMBI is contraindicated in patients with serious hypersensitivity to lecanemab-irmb or to any of the excipients of LEQEMBI. Reactions have included angioedema and anaphylaxis.

WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONSAmyloid Related Imaging Abnormalities

  • LEQEMBI can cause ARIA-E and ARIA-H. ARIA-E can be observed on MRI as brain edema or sulcal effusions, and ARIA-H as microhemorrhage and superficial siderosis. ARIA can occur spontaneously in patients with Alzheimer's disease. ARIA-H associated with monoclonal antibodies directed against aggregated forms of beta amyloid generally occurs in association with an occurrence of ARIA-E. ARIA-H and ARIA-E can occur together. ARIA usually occurs early in treatment and is usually asymptomatic, although serious and life-threatening events, including seizure and status epilepticus, rarely can occur. Reported symptoms associated with ARIA may include headache, confusion, visual changes, dizziness, nausea, and gait difficulty. Focal neurologic deficits may also occur. Symptoms associated with ARIA usually resolve over time.

ARIA Monitoring and Dose Management Guidelines

  • Obtain recent baseline brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) prior to initiating treatment with LEQEMBI. Obtain an MRI prior to the 5th, 7th and 14th infusions.
  • Recommendations for dosing in patients with ARIA-E and ARIA-H depend on clinical symptoms and radiographic severity. Depending on ARIA severity, use clinical judgment in considering whether to continue dosing, temporarily discontinue treatment, or permanently discontinue LEQEMBI.
  • Enhanced clinical vigilance for ARIA is recommended during the first 14 weeks of treatment with LEQEMBI. If a patient experiences symptoms suggestive of ARIA, clinical evaluation should be performed, including MRI if indicated. If ARIA is observed on MRI, careful clinical evaluation should be performed prior to continuing treatment.
  • There is no experience in patients who continued dosing through symptomatic ARIA-E or through asymptomatic, but radiographically severe, ARIA-E. There is limited experience in patients who continued dosing through asymptomatic but radiographically mild to moderate ARIA-E. There are limited data in dosing patients who experienced recurrent ARIA-E.

Incidence of ARIA

  • In Study 2, symptomatic ARIA occurred in 3% (29/898) of LEQEMBI-treated patients. Serious symptoms associated with ARIA were reported in 0.7% (6/898) of patients treated with LEQEMBI. Clinical symptoms associated with ARIA resolved in 79% (23/29) of patients during the period of observation.
  • Including asymptomatic radiographic events, ARIA was observed in LEQEMBI: 21% (191/898); placebo: 9% (84/897). ARIA-E was observed in LEQEMBI: 13% (113/898); placebo: 2% (15/897). ARIA-H was observed in LEQEMBI: 17% (152/898); placebo: 9% (80/897). There was no increase in isolated ARIA-H for LEQEMBI vs placebo.

ApoE ε4 Carrier Status and Risk of ARIA

  • In Study 2, 16% (141/898) of patients in the LEQEMBI arm were ApoE ε4 homozygotes, 53% (479/898) were heterozygotes, and 31% (278/898) were noncarriers.
  • The incidence of ARIA was higher in ApoE ε4 homozygotes (LEQEMBI: 45%; placebo: 22%) than in heterozygotes (LEQEMBI: 19%; placebo: 9%) and noncarriers (LEQEMBI: 13%; placebo: 4%). Among patients treated with LEQEMBI, symptomatic ARIA-E occurred in 9% of ApoE ε4 homozygotes compared with 2% of heterozygotes and 1% noncarriers. Serious events of ARIA occurred in 3% of ApoE ε4 homozygotes, and approximately 1% of heterozygotes and noncarriers.
  • The recommendations on management of ARIA do not differ between ApoE ε4 carriers and noncarriers.

Radiographic Findings

  • The majority of ARIA-E radiographic events occurred early in treatment (within the first 7 doses), although ARIA can occur at any time and patients can have more than 1 episode. The maximum radiographic severity of ARIA-E in patients treated with LEQEMBI was mild in 4% (37/898), moderate in 7% (66/898), and severe in 1% (9/898). Resolution on MRI occurred in 52% of ARIA-E patients by 12 weeks, 81% by 17 weeks, and 100% overall after detection. The maximum radiographic severity of ARIA-H microhemorrhage in LEQEMBI-treated patients was mild in 9% (79/898), moderate in 2% (19/898), and severe in 3% (28/898) of patients; superficial siderosis was mild in 4% (38/898), moderate in 1% (8/898), and severe in 0.4% (4/898). Among LEQEMBI-treated patients, the rate of severe radiographic ARIA-E was highest in ApoE ε4 homozygotes 5% (7/141), compared to heterozygotes 0.4% (2/479) or noncarriers 0% (0/278). Among LEQEMBI-treated patients, the rate of severe radiographic ARIA-H was highest in ApoE ε4 homozygotes 13.5% (19/141), compared to heterozygotes 2.1% (10/479) or noncarriers 1.1% (3/278).

Intracerebral Hemorrhage

  • Intracerebral hemorrhage >1 cm in diameter was reported in 0.7% (6/898) of patients in Study 2 after treatment with LEQEMBI compared to 0.1% (1/897) on placebo. Fatal events of intracerebral hemorrhage in patients taking LEQEMBI have been reported.

Concomitant Antithrombotic Medication:

  • In Study 2, baseline use of antithrombotic medication (aspirin, other antiplatelets, or anticoagulants) was allowed if the patient was on a stable dose. The majority of exposures to antithrombotic medications were to aspirin. Antithrombotic medications did not increase the risk of ARIA with LEQEMBI. The incidence of intracerebral hemorrhage was 0.9% (3/328 patients) in patients taking LEQEMBI with a concomitant antithrombotic medication at the time of the event compared to 0.6% (3/545 patients) in those who did not receive an antithrombotic. Patients taking LEQEMBI with an anticoagulant alone or combined with an antiplatelet medication or aspirin had an incidence of intracerebral hemorrhage of 2.5% (2/79 patients) compared to none in patients who received placebo.
  • Because intracerebral hemorrhages >1 cm in diameter have been observed in patients taking LEQEMBI, additional caution should be exercised when considering the administration of anticoagulants or a thrombolytic agent (e.g., tissue plasminogen activator) to a patient already being treated with LEQEMBI.

Other Risk Factors for Intracerebral Hemorrhage:

  • Patients were excluded from enrollment in Study 2 for findings on neuroimaging that indicated an increased risk for intracerebral hemorrhage. These included findings suggestive of cerebral amyloid angiopathy (prior cerebral hemorrhage >1 cm in greatest diameter, >4 microhemorrhages, superficial siderosis, vasogenic edema) or other lesions (aneurysm, vascular malformation) that could potentially increase the risk of intracerebral hemorrhage. The presence of an ApoE ε4 allele is also associated with cerebral amyloid angiopathy, which has an increased risk for intracerebral hemorrhage. Caution should be exercised when considering the use of LEQEMBI in patients with factors that indicate an increased risk for intracerebral hemorrhage and in particular for patients who need to be on anticoagulant therapy.

Hypersensitivity ReactionsHypersensitivity reactions, including angioedema, bronchospasm, and anaphylaxis, have occurred in LEQEMBI-treated patients. Promptly discontinue the infusion upon the first observation of any signs or symptoms consistent with a hypersensitivity reaction, and initiate appropriate therapy.

Infusion-Related Reactions

  • In Study 2, infusion-related reactions were observed in LEQEMBI: 26% (237/898); placebo: 7% (66/897), and the majority of cases in LEQEMBI-treated patients (75%, 178/237) occurred with the first infusion. Infusion-related reactions were mostly mild (69%) or moderate (28%) in severity. Infusion-related reactions resulted in discontinuations in 1% (12/898) of LEQEMBI-treated patients. Symptoms of infusion-related reactions included fever and flu-like symptoms (chills, generalized aches, feeling shaky, and joint pain), nausea, vomiting, hypotension, hypertension, and oxygen desaturation.
  • In the event of an infusion-related reaction, the infusion rate may be reduced, or the infusion may be discontinued, and appropriate therapy initiated as clinically indicated. Prophylactic treatment with antihistamines, acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or corticosteroids prior to future infusions may be considered.

ADVERSE REACTIONS

  • In Study 2, the most common adverse reactions leading to discontinuation of LEQEMBI was ARIA-H microhemorrhages that led to discontinuation in 2% (15/898) of patients treated with LEQEMBI compared to

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