Today's Clinical Lab - News, Editorial and Products for the Clinical Laboratory
A young boy in a wheelchair looks back into the camera.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a rare neurological disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness due to a lack of muscle protein.

FDA Approves First Nonsteroidal Drug for DMD

The FDA granted the approval of Duvyzat™ to Italfarmaco S.p.A

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Published:Mar 25, 2024
|2 min read
Register for free to listen to this article
Listen with Speechify

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved Duvyzat™ (givinostat) oral medication for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) in patients six years of age and older. Duvyzat is the first nonsteroidal drug approved to treat patients with all genetic variants of DMD. It is a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor that targets pathogenic processes to reduce inflammation and loss of muscle.

“DMD denies the opportunity for a healthy life to the children it affects. The FDA is committed to advancing the development of new therapies for DMD,” said Emily Freilich, MD, director of the Division of Neurology 1, Office of Neuroscience in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “This approval provides another treatment option to help reduce the burden of this progressive, devastating disease for individuals impacted by DMD regardless of genetic mutation.”

Phase 3 study evaluated DMD treatment drug

DMD is the most common childhood form of muscular dystrophy and typically affects males. It is a rare neurological disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness due to a lack of muscle protein called dystrophin. Over time, the muscles deteriorate causing problems with walking and muscle strength and ultimately problems with breathing leading to early death. Life expectancy for those with DMD has increased over the years, with some patients surviving beyond 30 years.

Duvyzat’s efficacy for DMD treatment was evaluated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled 18-month Phase 3 study. The primary endpoint was the change from baseline to month 18 using a four-stair climb to measure muscle function. 

All participants continued to receive a standard-of-care steroid regimen throughout the study and, after 18 months of treatment, patients treated with Duvyzat showed a statistically significant decline in the time it took to climb four stairs compared to placebo. The mean change from baseline to month 18 in time to climb four stairs was 1.25 seconds for patients receiving Duvyzat compared to 3.03 seconds for patients receiving a placebo. 

A secondary efficacy endpoint was the change from baseline to month 18 in physical function as assessed by the North Star Ambulatory Assessment (NSAA)—a scale commonly used to rate the motor function in boys with DMD who are capable of walking. Compared to placebo, patients treated with Duvyzat saw less worsening in their NSAA score after 18 months.

Side effects and warnings

The most common side effects of Duvyzat are diarrhea, abdominal pain, a decrease in platelets—which can lead to increased bleeding—nausea/vomiting, an increase in triglycerides, and fever.

The prescribing information for Duvyzat includes warnings asking healthcare providers to evaluate the patient’s platelet counts and triglycerides before prescribing Duvyzat. Patients with a platelet count less than 150 x 109 per liter should not take Duvyzat. Platelet counts and triglycerides should be monitored as recommended during treatment to determine if changes in dosage are needed. 

The recommended dosage of Duvyzat is determined by the individual’s body weight. It should be administered orally twice daily with food. 

Dosage modifications may also be needed for moderate or severe diarrhea. Duvyzat may also cause QTc prolongation, which can increase the risk of arrhythmia. Patients taking certain medications that also cause QTc prolongation or have certain types of heart disease should avoid taking Duvyzat.

- This press release was originally published on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website