April 18, 2024

Q&A: US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves MRD as a basis for accelerated approval in myeloma

Q&A: US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves MRD as a basis for accelerated approval in myeloma

Last Friday, the US FDA’s Oncology Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) (FDA being the US medicines regulator) voted 12 – 0 to approve minimal residual disease (MRD) as an accepted endpoint for accelerated approval of new myeloma drugs. The committee’s primary role is to review benefit-risk data of new cancer drugs. You can see the full meeting and evidence considered here.

The decision means that myeloma drugs may now be approved earlier in the US based on clinical trial data measuring MRD. MRD is approved as an intermediate endpoint.

Following the FDA decision, MPE spoke to Dr Bruno Paiva, Director of Flow Cytometry and Director of the Monoclonal Gammopathies Research Laboratory, University of Navarra, Spain. Given his involvement in ODAC meeting and the I2TEAMM project, he commented:

“I welcome the news from the US FDA, as it marks the culmination of years of international effort on behalf of the myeloma community. It remains to be seen what the impact of this FDA decision will be for Europe. Until now, EMA has been generally cautious about the use of MRD as a surrogate endpoint in the applications for myeloma drugs. But the unanimous decision of the FDA Committee to approve MRD as an intermediate endpoint for accelerated approval could signal a renewed interest in MRD as a useful tool in regulatory approvals.”

In this patient Q&A article, we explore why the FDA made the decision and what it means for myeloma patients living in Europe.

What are intermediate and surrogate endpoints?

All clinical trials use endpoints to measure whether a new drug is beneficial or not. Typically, in myeloma, clinical trials measure two main endpoints – progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). PFS tells you how long patients have stable disease with the new drug and OS tells you for how long patients survive.

As new drugs in myeloma have become more effective, collecting PFS and OS data in myeloma clinical trials can take many years. To help bring medicines faster to patients, myeloma researchers have been looking at an endpoint called MRD to determine if it can be used predict PFS and OS outcomes in clinical trials.

MRD is now approved by FDA as an intermediate endpoint which means that MRD negativity is expected to lead to longer PFS and OS at the individual patient level. For it be considered a genuine surrogate endpoint the link between MRD negativity and improved PFS and OS would need to be strong at the trial-level. That is, that a treatment effect in PFS and OS can be predicted by the treatment effect in MRD negative rates. The level of association shown at the ODAC hearing was moderate and not strong.