From the Journals

Malignancy risk: Secukinumab shows long-term safety for psoriasis, PsA, ankylosing spondylitis



Malignancy rates were low in patients with psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and ankylosing spondylitis who were treated with secukinumab, for up to 5 years, based on data from a safety analysis that included 49 clinical trials.

Dr. Mark Lebwohl, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York

Dr. Mark Lebwohl

Secukinumab (Cosentyx), an interleukin-17A antagonist, is approved for several conditions: moderate to severe psoriasis in children and adults, PsA, ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and nonradiographic axial spondyloarthritis.

Although secukinumab has demonstrated safety and tolerability, data on long-term malignancy rates are limited, wrote Mark Lebwohl, MD, professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, and coauthors.

In a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, they analyzed the combined safety data from clinical trials and postmarketing surveillance. The study population included 10,685 patients with psoriasis, 2,523 patients with PsA, and 1,311 patients with ankylosing spondylitis who received at least one approved dose of secukinumab (300 mg or 150 mg). The maximum follow-up was 5 years. The exposure-adjusted incidence rate was defined as the incidence rates per 100 patient treatment-years (PTY). The cumulative exposure for patients with psoriasis, PsA, and AS was 16,482, 4,944, and 2,668 PTY, respectively, with average follow-up times of 1.54, 1.96, and 2.03 years, respectively.

The observed and the expected number of malignancies were comparable, with a standardized incidence ratio (SIR) for malignancy of 0.99 across all treatment indications, the researchers said. In further analysis of malignancy by indication, the SIR was 0.87, 1.16, and 1.61 for psoriasis, PsA, and AS, respectively.

Data from postmarketing surveillance showed similar results: The estimated crude cumulative incidence reporting rate per 100 PTY was 0.27 for malignancy across all indications. The cumulative exposure was 285,811 PTY.

The study findings were limited by several factors including the post hoc design, differences in clinical trial methodologies, and lack of controlling for confounding variables, such as smoking status and previous exposure to systemic and biologic treatments, the researchers noted. In addition, the analysis did not include postexposure follow-up data, or data on patients who discontinued clinical trials, they said.

Overall, the analysis is the largest to date and supports the low risk of malignancy in patients with psoriasis, PsA, and AS treated with secukinumab, the researchers noted.

However, “while this assessment provides a broader understanding of the safety of secukinumab and supports its long-term use in these chronic systemic inflammatory conditions, registry data are further warranted to fully understand the real-world effect of biologics on malignancy risk,” they concluded.

“Secukinumab is a relatively newer biologic, approved in 2015, and there is currently a lack of longer-term data on the incidence of malignancy in secukinumab-treated patients, so it’s important to look at the data we have so far on this topic so we can better understand the long-term risks and counsel our psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis patients,” Flavia Fedeles, MD, of the department of dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, said in an interview.

Dr. Fedeles, who was not involved with the study, said that she was not surprised by the study results. “Data reported in the past from phase 3 clinical trials of secukinumab compared with placebo did not show an increase in risk of malignancy, though at that time no long-term safety data or data from patients with history of malignancy was available,” she said. “This study is reassuring in that there wasn’t a signal of increased malignancy events up to 5 years of secukinumab treatment,” said Dr. Fedeles.

Flavia Fedeles, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston

Dr. Flavia Fedeles

However, she noted that the study has a number of limitations, including the use of clinical trials data, which have stringent inclusion/exclusion criteria that can lead to selection bias, the use of postmarketing surveillance data, the post hoc nature of the analysis, and the fact that the sponsor of the trial was the manufacturer of secukinumab, which “potentially can lead to bias to this study.”

She added that “registry data are needed to fully understand the real-world long-term effect of secukinumab on malignancy risk.”

The study was funded by Novartis. Lead author Dr. Lebwohl disclosed participating in advisory boards and/or as an investigator and/or speaker and receiving grants and/or honoraria from multiple companies including Novartis. Several study coauthors are employees of Novartis.

Dr. Fedeles had no financial conflicts to disclose.

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