The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today granted accelerated approval to Balversa (erdafitinib), a treatment for adult patients with locally advanced or metastatic bladder cancer that has a type of susceptible genetic alteration known as FGFR3 or FGFR2, and that has progressed during or following prior platinum-containing chemotherapy. Patients should be selected for therapy with Balversa using an FDA-approved companion diagnostic device.
“We’re in an era of more personalized or precision medicine, and the ability to target cancer treatment to a patient’s specific genetic mutation or biomarker is becoming the standard, with advances being made in new disease types. Today’s approval represents the first personalized treatment targeting susceptible FGFR genetic alterations for patients with metastatic bladder cancer,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence and acting director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “FGFRs regulate important biological processes including cell growth and division during development and tissue repair. This drug works by targeting genetic alterations in FGFRs.”
The most common type of bladder cancer is transitional cell carcinoma, also called urothelial carcinoma. Bladder cancers are associated with genetic mutations that are present in the patient’s bladder or entire urothelium (the lining of the lower urinary tract). Bladder cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the United States. Fibroblast growth factor (FGFR) alterations are present in approximately one in five patients with recurrent and refractory bladder cancer.
The efficacy of Balversa was studied in a clinical trial that included 87 patients with locally advanced or metastatic bladder cancer, with FGFR3 or FGFR2 genetic alterations, that had progressed following treatment with chemotherapy. The overall response rate in these patients was 32.2%, with 2.3% having a complete response and almost 30% having a partial response. The response lasted for an average of approximately five-and-a-half months. About a quarter of patients in the study were previously treated with anti PD-L1/PD-1 therapy, which is a standard treatment for patients with locally advanced or metastatic bladder cancer. Responses to Balversa were seen in patients who had previously not responded to anti PD-L1/PD-1 therapy.
Common side effects reported by patients taking Balversa were increased phosphate level, mouth sores, feeling tired, change in kidney function, diarrhea, dry mouth, nails separating from the bed or poor formation of the nail, change in liver function, low salt (sodium) levels, decreased appetite, change in sense of taste, low red blood cells (anemia), dry skin, dry eyes and hair loss. Other side effects include redness, swelling, peeling or tenderness on the hands or feet (hand foot syndrome), constipation, stomach pain, nausea and muscle pain.
Balversa may cause serious eye problems, including inflamed eyes, inflamed cornea (front part of the eye) and disorders of the retina, an internal part of the eye. Patients are advised to have eye examinations intermittently and to tell their health care professional right away if they develop blurred vision, loss of vision or other visual changes. Health care professionals are advised to check patients’ blood phosphate level between 14 and 21 days after starting treatment and monthly, and to increase the dose Balversa in patients whose serum phosphate is below the target level.
Health care professionals are advised to tell male patients with female partners of reproductive potential to use effective contraception during treatment with Balversa and for one month after the last dose. Pregnancy testing is recommended for females of reproductive potential prior to initiating treatment with Balversa. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take Balversa because it may cause harm to a developing fetus or newborn baby. Balversa must be dispensed with a patient Medication Guide that describes important information about the drug’s uses and risks.
Balversa received an Accelerated Approval, which enables the FDA to approve drugs for serious conditions to fill an unmet medical need using clinical trial data that is thought to predict a clinical benefit to patients. Further clinical trials are required to confirm Balversa’s clinical benefit and the sponsor is conducting or plans to conduct these studies. Balversa was also granted Breakthrough Therapy designation.
The FDA granted the approval of Balversa to Janssen Pharmaceutical.
The FDA also approved the therascreen FGFR RGQ RT-PCR Kit, developed by QIAGEN Manchester, Ltd., for use as a companion diagnostic with Balversa for this therapeutic indication.