FDA Approves New Treatment for Adults with Cushing’s Disease

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Isturisa (osilodrostat) oral tablets for adults with Cushing’s disease who either cannot undergo pituitary gland surgery or have undergone the surgery but still have the disease. Cushing’s disease is a rare disease in which the adrenal glands make too much of the cortisol hormone. Isturisa is the first FDA-approved drug to directly address this cortisol overproduction by blocking the enzyme known as 11-beta-hydroxylase and preventing cortisol synthesis.

“The FDA supports the development of safe and effective treatments for rare diseases, and this new therapy can help people with Cushing’s disease, a rare condition where excessive cortisol production puts them at risk for other medical issues,” said Mary Thanh Hai, M.D., acting director of the Office of Drug Evaluation II in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “By helping patients achieve normal cortisol levels, this medication is an important treatment option for adults with Cushing’s disease.”

Cushing’s disease is caused by a pituitary tumor that releases too much of a hormone called adrenocorticotropin, which stimulates the adrenal gland to produce an excessive amount of cortisol. The disease is most common among adults between the ages of 30 to 50, and it affects women three times more often than men. Cushing’s disease can cause significant health issues, such as high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, blood clots in the legs and lungs, bone loss and fractures, a weakened immune system and depression. Patients may have thin arms and legs, a round red full face, increased fat around the neck, easy bruising, striae (purple stretch marks) and weak muscles.

Isturisa’s safety and effectiveness for treating Cushing’s disease among adults was evaluated in a study of 137 adult patients (about three-quarters women) with a mean age of 41 years. The majority of patients either had undergone pituitary surgery that did not cure Cushing’s disease or were not surgical candidates. In the 24-week, single-arm, open-label period, all patients received a starting dose of 2 milligrams (mg) of Isturisa twice a day that could be increased every two weeks up to 30 mg twice a day. At the end of this 24-week period, about half of patients had cortisol levels within normal limits. After this point, 71 patients who did not need further dose increases and tolerated the drug for the last 12 weeks entered an eight-week, double-blind, randomized withdrawal study where they either received Isturisa or a placebo (inactive treatment). At the end of this withdrawal period, 86% of patients receiving Isturisa maintained cortisol levels within normal limits compared to 30% of patients taking the placebo.

The most common side effects reported in the clinical trial for Isturisa were adrenal insufficiency, headache, vomiting, nausea, fatigue and edema (swelling caused by fluid retention). Hypocortisolism (low cortisol levels), QTc prolongation (a heart rhythm condition) and elevations in adrenal hormone precursors (inactive substance converted into a hormone) and androgens (hormone that regulates male characteristics) may also occur in people taking Isturisa.

Isturisa is taken by mouth twice a day, in the morning and evening as directed by a health care provider. After treatment has started, a provider may re-evaluate dosage, depending upon the patient’s response.

Isturisa received Orphan Drug Designation, which is a special status granted to a drug intended to treat a rare disease or condition.

The FDA granted the approval of Isturisa to Novartis.

Media Contact: Monique Richards, 240-402-3014
Consumer InquiriesEmail, 888-INFO-FDA

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

SOURCE U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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http://www.fda.gov

From https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/fda-approves-new-treatment-for-adults-with-cushings-disease-301019293.html

Hospital Staff Didn’t Give Emergency Cortisol to Teenager with Complex Special Needs

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A TEENAGER with complex special needs who died in hospital suffered a failure in basic medical communication, an inquest heard today.

Robin Brett, 18, of Blackmore Close, died in June 2014 in the Great Western Hospital after being admitted with chronic constipation and vomiting.

After a blood test indicated a raised white blood cell count, Robin went into cardiac arrest and died.

He had congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) a metabolic disease and genetic defect of the adrenal gland and learning difficulties. He required daily care and medications.

Robin’s parents listed a string of errors they believe contributed to his death including failure to give him his regular medications, infrequent observations and the lack of regular and vital cortisol injections.

His heartbroken mother, Teresa, told the inquest in Salisbury that she had told hospital staff to give Robin an emergency dose of cortisol, which was not topped up after the recommended four hours.

She said: “I asked them to give him cortisol after I noticed he was becoming clammy and had a headache which is a sign of adrenal distress, I was just about to with the syringe in my hand when it was done and he instantly perked up.

 “But this wasn’t done again after four hours and I don’t know why.”

GWH staff nurse Hannah Porte who cared for Robin on his admission said she had concerns about his “alarmingly” high pulse rate when she did observations.

“I spoke with a doctor who assured me that because he had a pre-existing condition it wasn’t of great concern. That is our protocol and I felt comforted and reassured when they said that,” she said.

Robin was described as “rocking backwards and forwards and retching “ shortly before his cardiac arrest.

Mum Teresa broke down as she recalled her “sociable and friendly” son’s decline.

“He asked me to turn his DVD player off which was out of character in itself and he was clammy. All of a sudden he wasn’t breathing,” she said,

Registrar Fahreyer Alam, who examined Robin upon admission, said he could not provide an explanation as to why steroidal drugs were prescribed but not administered to Robin.

“They was nothing about his condition on examination which would link to adrenal crisis,” he said,

“The drugs were written on the drug chart and I cannot say why they were not given to him.”

Dr Alam said he had set an observation schedule of every two hours which he had articulated to nurses, and was not observed.

“All I can is there is an element of trust in the nurses and in a busy department we do have to relay things verbally and that is what you do,” he said.

When questioned by assistant coroner Dr Claire Balysz, Dr Alam said the effect of the seven week constipation may have put pressure on Robin’s vital organs.

“His heart and lungs were smaller than average and slightly underdeveloped. The faecal impaction made his colon stretch, it may have impacted his lungs and his heart and that is something the post mortem found,” he said.

Dr Alam and nurse Porte agreed that more was being done within the trust to improve the accuracy and accessibility of patient records, including a new observation system and the use of electronic prescribing and administration (EPMA) system.

Adapted from http://www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk/news/13843924.Robin_Brett__18__died_in_GWH_after_medics_failed_to_communicate__inquest_hears/

Adrenal insufficiency – how to spot this rare disease and how to treat it

adrenal-glandsAddison’s disease, or adrenal insufficiency, is a rare hormonal disorder of the adrenal glands that affects around 8,400 people in the UK.

The adrenal glands are about the size of a pea and perched on top of the kidneys, and affect the body’s production of the hormones cortisol and sometimes aldosterone.

When someone suffers from adrenal insufficiency, those glands aren’t producing a sufficient amount of these hormones. This can have a detrimental effect on someone’s health and well-being. But because the symptoms are similar to a host of other conditions, Addison’s disease can prove tough to isolate.

What to look out for

According to advice provided by the NHS, the symptoms in the early stages of Addison’s disease, which affects both men and women, are gradual and easy to misread as they’re similar to many other conditions.

People can experience severe fatigue, muscle weakness, low moods, loss of appetite, unintentional weight loss, low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting and salt craving.

“Symptoms are often misread or ignored until a relatively minor infection leads to an abnormally long convalescence, which prompts an investigation,” says Professor Wiebke Arlt from the Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism at the University of Birmingham.

Life-threatening condition

If Addison’s disease is left untreated, the level of hormones produced by the adrenal gland will gradually decrease in the body. This will cause symptoms to get progressively worse and eventually lead to a potentially life-threatening situation called an adrenal, or Addisonian, crisis. Signs include severe dehydration; pale, cold, clammy skin; rapid, shallow breathing; extreme sleepiness; severe vomiting and diarrhoea. If left untreated, it can prove fatal, so the patient should be admitted to hospital as an emergency.

Back to basics

To understand the disorder, it’s important to get to grips with the basics and that means understanding what the adrenal glands are – and so to the science.

“Adrenal glands have an inner core (known as the medulla) surrounded by an outer shell (known as the cortex) ,” explains Arlt.
The inner medulla produces adrenaline, the ‘fight or flight’ stress hormone. While the absence of this does not cause the disease, the cortex is more critical.

“It produces the steroid hormones that are essential for life: cortisol and aldosterone,” he adds.

“Cortisol mobilises nutrients, enables the body to fight inflammation, stimulates the liver to produce blood sugar and also helps control the amount of water in the body. Aldosterone, meanwhile, regulates the salt and water levels, which can affect blood volume and pressure.”

Why does it happen?

The disorder occurs if the adrenal glands are destroyed, absent or unable to function and failure of the glands themselves is known as primary adrenal insufficiency.

“It’s most often caused by autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system mounts an attack against its own adrenal glands,” explains Arlt.

“However it can also be caused by infection, most importantly by tuberculosis and sometimes by both adrenal glands being surgically removed.”

The pituitary effect

Another important cause is any disease affecting the pituitary gland, which is located behind the nose at the bottom of the brain.
“The pituitary is the master gland that tells the other glands in the body what to do,” continues Arlt.

“The pituitary gland produces a hormone called ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone to give it its full name), which travels in the blood stream to the adrenal glands.

“Here it acts as a signal, causing the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol. If the pituitary gland stops making ACTH, [then] cortisol production by the adrenals is no longer controlled properly and a condition called secondary adrenal insufficiency arises.”

But in most cases, aldosterone is still produced, which means that people suffering from secondary adrenal insufficiency have fewer problems than those with primary adrenal insufficiency.

Determining a diagnosis

Due to the ambiguous nature of the symptoms, a Short Synacthen Test (SST) needs to be performed in order to diagnose adrenal insufficiency.

“This measures the ability of the adrenal glands to produce cortisol in response to (the pituitary hormone) ACTH,” says Arlt. “When carrying out this test, a baseline blood sample is drawn before injecting a dose of ACTH, followed by drawing a second blood sample 30 to 60 minutes later. Failing adrenal glands will not be able to produce a certain level of cortisol.”

Getting treatment

If someone has been conclusively diagnosed with adrenal insufficiency, they should receive adrenal hormone replacement therapy as advised by an endocrinologist, a doctor specialising in hormone-related diseases.

“A normal adrenal gland does not need supplements to function properly and there is no recognised medical condition called ‘adrenal fatigue’,” warns Arlt.

“Either the adrenal gland is fine and needs no treatment or there is adrenal insufficiency due to adrenal or pituitary failure.”

So if in doubt, don’t self-diagnose but book an appointment with your GP.

For more information, visit Addison’s Disease Self-Help Group (www.addisons.org.uk) or Pituitary Foundation.

From https://home.bt.com/lifestyle/wellbeing/adrenal-insufficiency-how-to-spot-this-rare-disease-and-how-to-treat-it-11363985141306

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