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Risankizumab approved by EMA for active psoriatic arthritis

Rod Tucker
22 November, 2021  

Risankizumab can now be used by patients with active psoriatic arthritis after an inadequate response or intolerance to one or more DMARDs

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved the use of risankizumab (brand name Skyrizi) for the treatment of patients with active psoriatic arthritis (PsA) who have failed to adequately response to one or more disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or who are intolerant to DMARDs.

Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis affecting the joints and connective tissue which is associated with psoriasis and which is present on the skin or nails. While the prevalence of psoriasis in the general population is low, at around 3%, at least 20% of psoriasis patients have PsA which is a progressive disease that ranges from mild synovitis to severe erosive arthropathy. Sufferers of PsA experience joint inflammation which causes swelling and pain and which has a negative impact on their quality of life.

The treatment of PsA starts with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and as the disease progresses, escalates to oral corticosteroids, DMARDs and finally biologic agents. There are currently several biologics approved for the management of PsA including ixekizumab and guselkumab. Skyrizi was previously approved by the EMA in 2019 for the treatment of plaque psoriasis but that has been extended to include PsA.

Clinical efficacy

The EMA approval of Skyrizi (risankizumab) was based the findings of two Phase III clinical trials, KEEPsAKE-1 and KEEPsAKE-2. Both trials were placebo-controlled trials in patients with moderate to severe PsA although KEEPsAKE-1 included patients with an inadequate respond to one or more DMARDs whereas KEEPsAKE-2 recruited those with an inadequate response to other biologicals. In both trials patients received skyrizi at subcutaneous dose of 150 mg and the primary outcome for both studies was the ‘percentage of Participants Achieving at least 20% Improvement in American College of Rheumatology (ACR20)‘.

The ACR20 is a composite measure defined as both improvement of 20% in the number of tender and number of swollen joints, and a 20% improvement in three of the following five criteria: patient global assessment, physician global assessment, functional ability measure [most often Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ)], visual analog pain scale, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate or C-reactive protein (CRP).

In both trials, the ACR20 response was set as the primary endpoint and assessed after 24 weeks. Secondary endpoints included the Health assessment questionnaire disability index (HAD-DI), which represents a measure of physical function and the proportion of patients achieving minimal disease activity (MDA).

In KEEPsAKE-1 (KS1) and KEEPsAKE-2 (KS2), 57.3% and 51.3% of patients respectively, given risankizumab achieved the primary endpoint compared to 33.5% and 26.5% receiving placebo (p<0.001).

Similarly, improvements in HAQ-DI of -0.31 (KSI) and -0.22 (KS2) compared with -0.11 and -0.05, in the respective placebo groups was seen at week 24 (p<0.001). Finally, 25% (KS1) and 25.6% (KS2) of Skyrizi patients achieved MDA, compared to 10.2% (KS1) and 11.4% (KS2) of those on placebo (p<0.001).

In terms of safety, serious adverse events occurred in 2.5% (KS1) and 4% (KS2) of patients given Skyrizi although this was comparable to the placebo rate (3.7% and 5.5%, KSI and KS2).

According to the EMA approval, Skyrizi can be used either alone or in combination with methotrexate.

Source. Abbvie press release. 17th November 2021