FDA Grants Accelerated Approval to Iqirvo (elafibranor) for the Treatment of Primary Biliary Cholangitis


Primary Biliary Cholangitis


PARIS, FRANCE, 10 June 2024 -- Ipsen (Euronext: IPN; ADR: IPSEY) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted accelerated approval for Iqirvo (elafibranor) 80 mg tablets for the treatment of primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) in combination with ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) in adults who have an inadequate response to UDCA, or as monotherapy in patients unable to tolerate UDCA. Iqirvo may be prescribed immediately in the U.S. for eligible patients.

This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on the reduction of alkaline phosphatase (ALP). Improvement in survival or prevention of liver decompensation events has not been demonstrated. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trial(s). Iqirvo is not recommended for people who have or develop decompensated cirrhosis (e.g., ascites, variceal bleeding, hepatic encephalopathy).

“For a significant number of people living with PBC, available treatments do not control the condition and may exacerbate symptoms of PBC. Left unmanaged, PBC can progress, leading to liver failure and in some cases, the need for a liver transplant,” said Christelle Huguet, Executive Vice President, Head of Research and Development at Ipsen. “Iqirvo demonstrated statistically significant improvements in biochemical response compared to UDCA alone. Iqirvo is, therefore a much-needed treatment option and the first new medicine for PBC in nearly a decade.”

Iqirvo is a first-in-class oral, once-daily peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) agonist. Iqirvo was in-licensed from GENFIT in 2021. The accelerated approval of Iqirvo is based on data from the Phase III ELATIVE trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine1. The ELATIVE trial demonstrated that 13 times more patients achieved the composite primary endpoint of biochemical response when treated with Iqirvo plus UDCA (n=108) versus placebo plus UDCA (=53) (respectively 51% versus 4% for a 47% treatment difference). ALP is a biochemical marker and is used as a surrogate endpoint in PBC trials. Secondary endpoints showed normalization in ALP levels in only Iqirvo-treated patients (15% for Iqirvo plus UDCA (n=108) versus 0% for placebo plus UDCA (n=53)). Most patients (95%) received study treatment (Iqirvo or placebo) in combination with UDCA.

The most common adverse reactions with Iqirvo reported in ≥10% of study participants were weight gain, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Some study participants treated with Iqirvo experienced myalgia, myopathy and rhabdomyolysis; fractures; adverse effects on fetal and newborn development; drug-induced liver injury; hypersensitivity reactions; or biliary obstruction. See full Important Safety Information below.

“Data from the pivotal Phase III ELATIVE clinical trial demonstrated that Iqirvo is an effective second-line treatment for patients with PBC with favorable benefit and risk data,” said Dr. Kris Kowdley, Director at Liver Institute Northwest, Washington, and a primary investigator on the ELATIVE study. “The approval of Iqirvo will allow healthcare providers in the U.S. to address an unmet need with the potential to significantly reduce ALP levels for our patients with PBC.”

PBC is a rare, autoimmune, cholestatic liver disease where a build-up of bile and toxins (cholestasis) and chronic inflammation causes irreversible fibrosis (scarring) of the liver and destruction of the bile ducts. Impacting approximately 100,000 people in the U.S.2, the majority being women, PBC is a lifelong condition that can worsen over time if not effectively treated, leading to liver transplant and in some cases, premature death. PBC also affects day-to-day life, with people most commonly experiencing severe fatigue symptoms and debilitating itch (pruritus).

“People living with PBC can feel like the symptoms they experience are dismissed by family members, friends, or even their doctors because they have not experienced something similarly disruptive in their lives. People with PBC may also feel uncertainty around the disease progression and if, or when, their liver health may deteriorate,” said Carol Roberts, Executive President of PBCers, a patient advocacy organization in the U.S. providing support to people living with PBC. “Earlier diagnosis and education about PBC, along with new treatment options are important to meet the current needs of people living with PBC.”

Iqirvo has been submitted to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), seeking authorization for PBC, with final EMA and MHRA regulatory decisions anticipated in the second half of 2024. The FDA approval of Iqirvo further strengthens Ipsen’s portfolio of treatments for rare cholestatic liver diseases available to patients in the U.S. This includes our FDA-approved medicine for the treatment of pruritus in patients three months and older with progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC) and for the treatment of cholestatic pruritus in patients from 12 months of age with Alagille syndrome (ALGS).


Myalgia, Myopathy, and Rhabdomyolysis: Rhabdomyolysis resulting in acute kidney injury occurred in one Iqirvo-treated patient who had cirrhosis at baseline and was also taking a stable dose of an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor (statin). Myalgia or myopathy, with or without CPK elevations, occurred in patients treated with Iqirvo alone or treated concomitantly with a stable dose of an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor. Assess for myalgia and myopathy prior to Iqirvo initiation. Consider periodic assessment (clinical exam, CPK measurement) during treatment with IQIRVO, especially in those who have signs and symptoms of new onset or worsening of muscle pain or myopathy. Interrupt IQIRVO treatment if there is a new onset or worsening of muscle pain, or myopathy, or rhabdomyolysis.

Fractures: Fractures occurred in 6% of Iqirvo-treated patients compared to no placebo-treated patients. Consider the risk of fracture in the care of patients treated with IQIRVO and monitor bone health according to current standards of care.

Adverse Effects on Fetal and Newborn Development: Iqirvo may cause fetal harm when administered during pregnancy. For females of reproductive potential, verify that the patient is not pregnant prior to initiation of therapy. Advise females of reproductive potential to use effective non-hormonal contraceptives or add a barrier method when using systemic hormonal contraceptives during treatment with Iqirvo and for 3 weeks following the last dose of Iqirvo.

Drug-Induced Liver Injury: Drug-induced liver injury occurred in one patient who took Iqirvo 80 mg once daily and two patients who took Iqirvo at 1.5-times the recommended dosage, of which one presented with autoimmune-like hepatitis. The median time to onset of elevation in liver tests was 85 days. Obtain baseline clinical, laboratory, and imaging assessments at treatment initiation with Iqirvo and monitor thereafter according to routine patient management. Interrupt IQIRVO treatment if liver tests (ALT, AST, total bilirubin [TB], and/or alkaline phosphatase [ALP]) worsen, or the patient develops signs and symptoms consistent with clinical hepatitis (e.g., jaundice, right upper quadrant pain, eosinophilia). Consider permanent discontinuation if liver tests worsen after restarting IQIRVO.

Hypersensitivity Reactions: Hypersensitivity reactions have occurred in a clinical trial with Iqirvo at 1.5-times the recommended dosage. Three patients (0.2%) had rash or unspecified allergic reactions that occurred 2 to 30 days after Iqirvo initiation. Hypersensitivity reactions resolved after discontinuation of Iqirvo and treatment with steroids and/or antihistamines. If a severe hypersensitivity reaction occurs, permanently discontinue IQIRVO. If a mild or moderate hypersensitivity reaction occurs, interrupt IQIRVO and treat promptly. Monitor the patient until signs and symptoms resolve. If a hypersensitivity reaction recurs after IQIRVO rechallenge, then permanently discontinue IQIRVO.

Biliary Obstruction: Avoid the use of Iqirvo in patients with complete biliary obstruction. If biliary obstruction is suspected, interrupt IQIRVO and treat as clinically indicated.

Drug-Drug Interactions

Iqirvo may reduce the systemic exposure of progestin and ethinyl estradiol (CYP3A4 substrates), which may lead to contraceptive failure and/or an increase in breakthrough bleeding. Switch to effective non-hormonal contraceptives or add a barrier method when using hormonal contraceptives during treatment with IQIRVO and for at least 3 weeks after the last dose.

CPK elevation and/or myalgia occurred in patients on Iqirvo monotherapy. Co-administration of IQIRVO and HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors can increase the risk of myopathy. Monitor for signs and symptoms of muscle injury. Consider periodic assessment (clinical exam, CPK) during treatment. Interrupt IQIRVO treatment if there is a new onset or worsening of muscle pain or myopathy.

Co-administration of Iqirvo with rifampin, an inducer of metabolizing enzymes, may reduce the systemic exposure of elafibranor resulting in delayed or suboptimal biochemical response. Monitor the biochemical response (e.g., ALP and bilirubin) when patients initiate rifampin during treatment with Iqirvo.

Bile acid sequestrants may interfere with Iqirvo absorption and systemic exposure, which may reduce efficacy. Administer Iqirvo at least 4 hours before or after a bile acid sequestrant, or at as great an interval as possible.

Use in Special Populations

Pregnancy: Based on data from animal reproduction studies, Iqirvo may cause fetal harm when administered during pregnancy. There are insufficient data from human pregnancies exposed to Iqirvo to allow an assessment of a drug-associated risk of major birth defects, miscarriage, or other adverse maternal or fetal outcomes. Report pregnancies to Ipsen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Adverse Event reporting line at 1-855-463-5127 or https://www.ipsen.com/contact-us/.

Lactation: There are no data available on the presence of Iqirvo or its metabolites in human milk, or on effects of the drug on the breastfed infant or the effects on milk production. IQIRVO is not recommended during breastfeeding and for at least 3 weeks following last dose of IQIRVO because the risk to breastfed child cannot be excluded.

Females and Males of Reproductive Potential: Iqirvo may cause fetal harm when administered to pregnant women. Verify the pregnancy status of females of reproductive potential prior to initiating Iqirvo. Advise females of reproductive potential to use effective contraception during treatment with IQIRVO and for 3 weeks after the final dose.

The most common adverse events occurring in ≥10% of patients were weight gain (23%), abdominal pain (11%), nausea (11%), vomiting (11%), and diarrhea (11%).

You are encouraged to report side effects to FDA at (800) FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch. You may also report side effects to Ipsen Pharmaceuticals at 1-855-463-5127.

Please see full Prescribing Information for Iqirvo.

About Iqirvo

Iqirvo (pronounced EYE-KER-VO) is an oral, once-daily, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) agonist indicated for the treatment of primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) in combination with ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) in adults who have an inadequate response to UDCA, or as monotherapy in patients unable to tolerate UDCA. While the mechanism is not well understood, pharmacological activity that is potentially relevant to Iqirvo therapeutic effects includes inhibition of bile acid synthesis through activation of PPAR-alpha and PPAR-delta. In 2019, Iqirvo was granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in adults with PBC who have an inadequate response to ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) the existing first-line therapy for PBC. Iqirvo has not received approval by regulatory authorities outside of the U.S. Iqirvo is currently under regulatory review with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Iqirvo was discovered and developed by GENFIT and Ipsen licensed the exclusive worldwide rights (except China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau) to elafibranor from GENFIT in 2021.

Iqirvo has been granted approval under the FDA accelerated approval program, which allows for approval of medicines that treat serious conditions and fill an unmet medical need based on a surrogate endpoint. Under the program, Ipsen is required to conduct a trial to confirm anticipated clinical benefit. The confirmatory trial for Iqirvo, ELFIDENCE, is ongoing.

Iqirvo is an 80 mg tablet administered orally once daily. To ensure access to Iqirvo for eligible individuals in the U.S., the IPSEN CARES® patient support program is available as a resource to people living with PBC and their caregivers to provide educational support and address coverage, access and reimbursement questions (1-866-435-5677).

About the Phase III ELATIVE trial

ELATIVE is a multi-center, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase III clinical trial (n=161) that evaluated the efficacy and safety of Iqirvo 80mg once daily plus UDCA (n=108) versus placebo plus UDCA (n=53). Iqirvo or placebo was administered in combination with UDCA in 95% of patients and as monotherapy in 5% of patients who were unable to tolerate UDCA. The 52-week study was completed by 92% of participants with 97% of those who completed the study continuing in an extension study. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine1.

  • The ELATIVE trial demonstrated that Iqirvo had a statistically significant treatment benefit with 51% of patients on Iqirvo achieving a biochemical response compared with 4% on the placebo arm, a treatment benefit of 47% (95% CI 32, 57; p<0.0001). Biochemical response was defined as ALP less than 1.67 Upper Limit of Normal (ULN), an ALP decrease of greater than or equal to 15% from baseline and total bilirubin (TB) ≤ ULN at week 52.
  • ALP normalization at week 52 was a key secondary endpoint with 15% of Iqirvo-treated patients demonstrating normalization versus 0% placebo (p=0.002).
  • The significant biochemical response to Iqirvo was further supported by data demonstrating reductions from baseline in ALP levels were sustained through week 52 and response was rapid, seen as early as Week 4 in the Iqirvo group.
  • The most common adverse reactions with Iqirvo reported in ≥10% of study participants were weight gain, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

About Ipsen

We are a global biopharmaceutical company with a focus on bringing transformative medicines to patients in three therapeutic areas: Oncology, Rare Disease and Neuroscience.

Our pipeline is fueled by external innovation and supported by nearly 100 years of development experience and global hubs in the U.S., France and the U.K. Our teams in more than 40 countries and our partnerships around the world enable us to bring medicines to patients in more than 80 countries.

Ipsen is listed in Paris (Euronext: IPN) and in the U.S. through a Sponsored Level I American Depositary Receipt program (ADR: IPSEY). For more information, visit ipsen.com.

  1. Kowdley. K.V, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Elafibranor in Primary Biliary Cholangitis. NEJM. 2023. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2306185
  2. Lu M, Zhou, et al. Fibrotic Liver Disease Consortium Investigators. Increasing Prevalence of Primary Biliary Cholangitis and Reduced Mortality With Treatment. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2018 Aug;16(8):1342-1350.e1. DOI: 10.1016/j.cgh.2017.12.033.

Source: Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.

Posted: June 2024

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