Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Voxzogo (vosoritide) injection to improve growth in children five years of age and older with achondroplasia and open epiphyses (growth plates), meaning these children still have the potential to grow. Achondroplasia is the most common form of dwarfism.
“Today’s approval fulfills an unmet medical need for more than 10,000 children in the United States and underscores the FDA’s commitment to help make new therapies available for rare diseases,” said Theresa Kehoe, M.D., director of the Division of General Endocrinology in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “With this action, children with short stature due to achondroplasia have a treatment option that targets the underlying cause of their short stature.”
Achondroplasia is a genetic condition that causes severely short stature and disproportionate growth. The average height of an adult with achondroplasia is approximately four feet. People with achondroplasia have a genetic mutation that causes a certain growth regulation gene called fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 to be overly active, which prevents normal bone growth. Voxzogo works by binding to a specific receptor called natriuretic peptide receptor-B that reduces the growth regulation gene’s activity and stimulates bone growth.
Voxzogo’s safety and efficacy in improving growth were evaluated in a year-long, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 study in participants five years and older with achondroplasia who have open epiphyses. In the study, 121 participants were randomly assigned to receive either Voxzogo injections under the skin or a placebo. Researchers measured the participants’ annualized growth velocity, or rate of height growth, at the end of the year. Participants who received Voxzogo grew an average 1.57 centimeters taller compared to those who received a placebo.
The most common side effects of Voxzogo include injection site reactions, vomiting and decreased blood pressure. Voxzogo’s labeling also lists decreased blood pressure as a warning and precaution, which means it is a potentially serious side effect.
The FDA approved Voxzogo under the accelerated approval pathway, which allows for earlier approval of drugs that treat serious conditions and fill an unmet medical need, based on a surrogate or intermediate clinical endpoint. A condition of this accelerated approval is a post-marketing study that will assess final adult height. This application also received priority review designation.
The FDA granted the approval of Voxzogo to BioMarin.
Achondroplasia is a disorder of bone growth that prevents the changing of cartilage (particularly in the long bones of the arms and legs) to bone. It is characterized by dwarfism, limited range of motion at the elbows, large head size (macrocephaly), small fingers, and normal intelligence. Achondroplasia can cause health complications such as interruption of breathing (apnea), obesity, recurrent ear infections, an exaggerated inward curve of the lumbar spine (lordosis). More serious problems include a narrowing of the spinal canal that can pinch (compress) the upper part of the spinal cord (spinal stenosis) and a buildup of fluid in the brain (hydrocephalus). Some people with achondroplasia may have delayed motor development early on, but cognition is normal. Achondroplasia is caused by mutations in the FGFR3 gene. Inheritance is autosomal dominant. Treatment may include medication with growth hormone, and surgery aimed to correct the spine, or bone problems, as well, as to reduce the pressure inside the brain in cases of hydrocephaly. Prognosis with achondroplasia is good except in cases of spinal compression at the neck
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