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Upadacitinib recommended for nonradiographic axSpA in Europe


Upadacitinib may soon be used for the treatment of nonradiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA) after the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) gave it its stamp of approval.

AbbVie, the drug’s manufacturer, announced on June 27 that the committee approved the use on June 23. The recommendation to approve market authorization for upadacitinib for nr-axSpA now goes to the European Commission, which is expected to make a decision by the third quarter of 2022.

“The CHMP’s recommendation to approve upadacitinib for patients with nr-axSpA is an important milestone in providing a new treatment option to patients in need,” said Neil Gallagher, MD, vice president of development and chief medical officer of AbbVie. He noted that currently, there are few options to treat symptoms such as inflammation, back pain, and stiffness for these patients.

Officially, the new indication for upadacitinib (Rinvoq) 15 mg once daily is for the treatment of active nr-axSpA in adult patients with objective signs of inflammation, as indicated by elevated C-reactive protein and/or MRI, whose condition has responded inadequately to NSAIDs.

Upadacitinib is a selective Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor that in human cellular assays preferentially inhibits signaling by JAK1 or JAK1/3.

In the European Union, upadacitinib is currently approved for use in patients with moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis, active psoriatic arthritis, active ankylosing spondylitis, and moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. In addition to these indications, it is approved in the United States for ulcerative colitis but not for nr-axSpA.

The committee based its decision on the results of the nr-axSpA study within the SELECT-AXIS-2 trial, recently reported at the European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (EULAR) 2022 annual meeting.

The nr-axSpA study met the primary endpoint of a 40% improvement in Assessment of SpondyloArthritis International Society response criteria (ASAS40) and the first 12 of 14 ranked secondary endpoints, according to AbbVie.

The most commonly reported adverse reactions with upadacitinib 15 mg were upper respiratory tract infections, elevated blood creatine phosphokinase levels, elevated alanine transaminase levels, bronchitis, nausea, cough, elevated aspartate transaminase levels, and hypercholesterolemia. These occurred in 2% or more of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis in clinical trials.

The safety profile of upadacitinib with long-term treatment was generally similar to the safety profile during the placebo-controlled period across indications, AbbVie said.

A version of this article first appeared on

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