FDA Approves First Treatment for Common Type of Post-Transplant Infection That Is Resistant to Other Drugs

Approval is for cytomegalovirus, a type of herpes virus

FDA Approves First Treatment for Common Type of Post-Transplant Infection That Is Resistant to Other Drugs
© Bloomberg

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Livtencity (maribavir) as the first drug for treating adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older and weighing at least 35 kilograms) with post-transplant cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection/disease that does not respond (with or without genetic mutations that cause resistance) to available antiviral treatment for CMV. Livtencity works by preventing the activity of human cytomegalovirus enzyme pUL97, thus blocking virus replication.

“Transplant recipients are at a much greater risk for complications and death when faced with a cytomegalovirus infection,” said John Farley, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Office of Infectious Diseases in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Cytomegalovirus infections that are resistant or do not respond to available drugs are of even greater concern. Today’s approval helps meet a significant unmet medical need by providing a treatment option for this patient population.”

CMV is a type of herpes virus that commonly causes infection in patients after a stem cell or organ transplant. CMV infection can lead to CMV disease and have a major negative impact on transplant recipients, including loss of the transplanted organ and death.

Livtencity’s safety and efficacy were evaluated in a Phase 3, multicenter, open-label, active-controlled trial that compared Livtencity with a treatment assigned by a researcher running the study, which could include one or two of the following antivirals used to treat CMV: ganciclovir, valganciclovir, foscarnet or cidofovir. In the study, 352 transplant recipients with CMV infections who did not respond (with or without resistance) to treatment randomly received Livtencity or treatment assigned by a researcher for up to eight weeks.

The study compared the two groups’ plasma CMV DNA concentration levels at the end of the study’s eighth week, with efficacy defined as having a level below what is measurable. Of the 235 patients who received Livtencity, 56% had levels of CMV DNA below what was measurable versus 24% of the 117 patients who received an investigator-assigned treatment.

The most common side effects of Livtencity include taste disturbance, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and fatigue. Livtencity may reduce the antiviral activity of ganciclovir and valganciclovir, so coadministration with these drugs is not recommended. Virologic failure due to resistance can occur during and after treatment with Livtencity, therefore CMV DNA levels should be monitored and Livtencity resistance should be checked if the patient is not responding to treatment or relapses.

Livtencity received Breakthrough Therapy and Priority Review designations for this indication. Breakthrough Therapy designation is a process designed to expedite the development and review of drugs that are intended to treat a serious condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over available therapy on a clinically significant endpoint(s). Priority Review designation directs overall attention and resources to the evaluation of applications for drugs that, if approved, would be significant improvements in the safety or effectiveness of the treatment, diagnosis or prevention of serious conditions when compared to standard applications.

The FDA granted the approval of Livtencity to Takeda Pharmaceuticals Company Limited.