Lupkynis is a calcineurin-inhibitor immunosuppressant, and is the first oral medication to show effectiveness in lupus nephritis, according to the company. The drug is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with active lupus nephritis in combination with a background immunosuppressive therapy regimen, according to the drug label, which also has a boxed warning describing the increased risk of infections and malignancies, including lymphoma.
The approval of voclosporin was based on data from two studies, the AURORA phase 3 study and the AURA-LV phase 2 study. The studies included 533 adults with lupus nephritis who were randomized to 23.7 mg or placebo of voclosporin twice daily in the form of oral capsules, or placebo capsules, in addition to standard of care (mycophenolate mofetil plus low-dose glucocorticoids).
In the AURORA phase 3 study of 357 patients, close to twice as many patients in the treatment group showed a complete renal response, compared with the placebo group after 1 year (40.8% vs. 22.5%). In addition, patients treated with voclosporin more quickly achieved a significant reduction in urine protein to creatinine ratio, compared with the placebo patients (169 days vs. 372 days).
Severe adverse events were similar between the groups, including the most common complication of infection (10.1% and 11.2% for voclosporin and control groups, respectively). Other adverse reactions reported in at least 3% of the study participants included a decrease in glomerular filtration rate, hypertension, diarrhea, headache, anemia, cough, urinary tract infection, upper abdominal pain, dyspepsia, alopecia, renal impairment, abdominal pain, mouth ulceration, fatigue, tremor, acute kidney injury, and decreased appetite, according to the company press release.