FDA Approves Oral Form of ALS Drug Edaravone

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved an orally administered version of edaravone (Radicava ORS) for adults with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). 

Edaravone is a pyrazolone free-radical scavenger thought to lessen the effects of oxidative stress, which is a probable factor in ALS onset and progression.

As reported by Medscape Medical News, the drug was first approved in 2017 as an intravenous (IV) infusion to treat ALS.

Radicava ORS is self-administered and can be taken at home. After fasting overnight, Radicava ORS should be taken in the morning orally or through a feeding tube.

The oral version has the same dosing regimen as the original IV version, with an initial treatment cycle of daily dosing for 14 days, followed by a 14-day drug-free period and subsequent treatment cycles consisting of daily dosing for 10 out of 14-day periods, followed by 14-day drug-free periods.

Compared with the IV formation of Radicava, Radicava ORS has been shown to generate comparable levels of active drug in the bloodstream, the FDA said.

The FDA determined that IV Radicava was effective based on a 6-month clinical trial in Japan involving 137 individuals who were randomly chosen to receive either the drug or a placebo.

At 24 weeks, individuals receiving Radicava showed less decline on a clinical assessment of daily functioning compared with those receiving placebo.

The most common side effects of Radicava are bruising, problems walking, and headache.

Fatigue is also a possible side effect from Radicava ORS. Both formulations can have serious side effects associated with allergic reactions, including hives, rash, and shortness of breath.

Full prescribing information, including additional information on risks associated with Radicava ORS, is available online.

ALS is a rare disease, affecting about 16,000 people in the United States, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The FDA granted Radicava ORS orphan drug status, priority review, and Fast Track designations.

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