The Food and Drug Administration today approved Cresemba (isavuconazonium sulfate), a new antifungal drug product used to treat adults with invasive aspergillosis and invasive mucormycosis, rare but serious infections.
Aspergillosis is a fungal infection caused by Aspergillus species, and mucormycosis is caused by the Mucorales fungi. These infections occur most often in people with weakened immune systems.
Cresemba belongs to a class of drugs called azole antifungal agents, which target the cell wall of a fungus. Cresemba is available in oral and intravenous formulations.
“Today’s approval provides a new treatment option for patients with serious fungal infections and underscores the importance of having available safe and effective antifungal drugs,” says Edward Cox, MD, MPH, director of the Office of Antimicrobial Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Cresemba is the sixth approved antibacterial or antifungal drug product designated as a Qualified Infectious Disease Product (QIDP). This designation is given to antibacterial or antifungal drug products that treat serious or life-threatening infections under the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now (GAIN) title of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act.
As part of its QIDP designation, Cresemba was given priority review, which provides an expedited review of the drug’s application. The QIDP designation also qualifies Cresemba for an additional five years of marketing exclusivity to be added to certain exclusivity periods already provided by the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. As these types of fungal infections are rare, the FDA also granted Cresemba orphan drug designations for invasive aspergillosis and invasive mucormycosis.
The approval of Cresemba to treat invasive aspergillosis was based on a clinical trial involving 516 participants randomly assigned to receive either Cresemba or voriconazole, another drug approved to treat invasive aspergillosis. Cresemba’s approval to treat invasive mucormycosis was based on a single-arm clinical trial involving 37 participants treated with Cresemba and compared with the natural disease progression associated with untreated mucormycosis. Both studies showed Cresemba was safe and effective in treating these serious fungal infections.
The most common side effects associated with Cresemba include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, abnormal liver blood tests, low potassium levels in the blood (hypokalemia), constipation, shortness of breath (dyspnea), coughing and tissue swelling (peripheral edema). Cresemba may also cause serious side effects including liver problems, infusion reactions and severe allergic and skin reactions.
Cresemba is marketed by Astellas Pharma US, Inc., based in Northbrook, Ill.