Cetuximab to be Considered for the Treatment of Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck
Nov 1, 2005 - 2:17:38 AM

ImClone Systems Incorporated and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has notified ImClone Systems that it has accepted for filing the Company's supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) for ERBITUX(R) (Cetuximab), an IgG1 monoclonal antibody, in the treatment of Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck (SCCHN). The application seeks approval for use of ERBITUX in combination with radiation for locally or regionally advanced head and neck cancer, and as monotherapy in patients with recurrent and/or metastatic disease where prior platinum-based chemotherapy has failed or where platinum-based therapy would not be appropriate.

The Companies also announced that the ERBITUX sBLA has been granted priority review. The FDA grants priority review to biologics that potentially offer a significant therapeutic advance over existing therapies for serious or life-threatening diseases. Based on the priority review designation, the FDA has six months from the submission date of August 30, 2005, to take action on the sBLA filing.

About Head and Neck Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with head and neck cancer this year, including cancers of the tongue, mouth, pharynx, and larynx. In addition, it is estimated that more than 11,000 will die from the disease in 2005 in the U.S.

About ERBITUX(R) (Cetuximab)

On February 12, 2004, the FDA approved ERBITUX for use in the United States in combination with irinotecan in the treatment of patients with EGFR-expressing, metastatic colorectal cancer who are refractory to irinotecan-based chemotherapy and for use as a single agent in the treatment of patients with EGFR-expressing, metastatic colorectal cancer who are intolerant to irinotecan-based chemotherapy. The effectiveness of ERBITUX for the treatment of colorectal cancer is based on objective response rates. Currently, no data are available that demonstrate an improvement in disease-related symptoms or increased survival with ERBITUX in metastatic colorectal cancer patients.

ERBITUX binds specifically to the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR, HER1, c-ErbB-1) on both normal and tumor cells, and competitively inhibits the binding of epidermal growth factor (EGF) and other ligands, such as transforming growth factor-alpha. The EGFR is constitutively expressed in many normal epithelial tissues, including the skin and hair follicle. Over-expression of EGFR is also detected in many human cancers including those of the colon and rectum.

Important Safety Information

Severe infusion reactions, rarely fatal and characterized by rapid onset of airway obstruction (bronchospasm, stridor, hoarseness), urticaria, and hypotension, have occurred in approximately 3% (20/774) of patients with the administration of ERBITUX. Most reactions (90%) were associated with the first infusion of ERBITUX despite the use of prophylactic antihistamines. Severe infusion reactions require immediate and permanent discontinuation of ERBITUX therapy. Caution must be exercised with every ERBITUX infusion as there were patients who experienced their first severe infusion reaction during later infusions. A 1-hour observation period is recommended following the ERBITUX infusion. Longer observation periods may be required in patients who experience infusion reactions.

Severe cases of interstitial lung disease (ILD), which was fatal in one case, occurred in less than 0.5% of 774 patients receiving ERBITUX.

Dermatologic toxicities, including acneform rash (11% of 774 patients, grade 3/4), skin drying and fissuring, inflammatory or infectious sequelae (e.g., blepharitis, cheilitis, cellulitis, cyst) and paronychial inflammation (0.4% of 774 patients, grade 3) were reported. Sun exposure may exacerbate any skin reactions.

Hypomagnesemia has been reported with ERBITUX when administered as a single agent and in combination with multiple different chemotherapeutic regimens. The incidence of hypomagnesemia (both overall and severe [NCI CTC grades 3 & 4]) was increased in patients receiving ERBITUX alone or in combination with chemotherapy as compared to those receiving best supportive care or chemotherapy alone based on ongoing, controlled clinical trials in 244 patients. Approximately one-half of these patients receiving ERBITUX experienced hypomagnesemia and 10-15% experienced severe hypomagnesemia. Electrolyte repletion was necessary in some patients, and in severe cases, intravenous replacement was required. Patients receiving ERBITUX therapy should be periodically monitored for hypomagnesemia, and accompanying hypocalcemia and hypokalemia during, and up to 8 weeks following the completion of, ERBITUX therapy.

Other serious adverse events associated with ERBITUX in clinical trials (n=774) were fever (5%), sepsis (3%), kidney failure (2%), pulmonary embolus (1%), dehydration (5% in patients receiving ERBITUX plus irinotecan, 2% receiving ERBITUX as a single agent) and diarrhea (6% in patients receiving ERBITUX plus irinotecan, 0.2% with ERBITUX as a single agent).

Additional common adverse events seen in patients receiving ERBITUX plus irinotecan (n=354) or ERBITUX as a single agent (n=420) were acneform rash (88%/90%), asthenia/malaise (73%/48%), diarrhea (72%/25%), nausea (55%/29%), abdominal pain (45%/26%), vomiting (41%/25%), fever (34%/27%), constipation (30%/26%) and headache (14%/26%).

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