March 1st, 2012
Decision on Apixaban (Eliquis) Pushed Back By 3 Months
Confirming earlier speculation by a Wall Street analyst, Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb announced on Wednesday evening that the FDA had extended by 3 months the action date for the new drug application (NDA) for the highly anticipated oral anticoagulant apixaban (Eliquis). The application is for their important indication of stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation. The FDA had previously granted the application a 6-month priority review, resulting in a March 28th decision date. The new decision date is June 28, 2012.
Sanford Bernstein research analyst Tim Anderson first raised the idea that the decision date might be delayed back on February 10th. On Tuesday Anderson released another note with additional evidence for the delay, based on the release of the tentative FDA advisory committee calendar for 2012, suggesting that the apixaban NDA will be subject to an advisory panel meeting. According to the calendar, the Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet on March 27 and May 23. The agenda for the March 27 session is already set for a discussion of Replagal for Fabry disease. Recall that earlier this week, the FDA granted a priority review to the NDA for rivaroxaban for ACS, resulting in a decision date of June 29. One might speculate then that another day might be added to the May 23rd meeting for consideration of the rivaroxaban and apixaban NDAs.
Anderson wonders why the FDA has suddenly put the brakes on the apixaban approval, which had heretofore seemed uncomplicated. He writes:
Our best guess remains that FDA may be seeking cover, given the safety experience following competing drug Pradaxa’s approval in 2010. Additionally, FDA may be seeking advice on things like product labeling and what claims would be allowed.
We might also note that the approval of rivaroxaban was far more difficult than had been expected. Remember that the ROCKET AF trial had been presented and published with broad approval, but then came under heavy fire from FDA reviewers. It is possible that FDA reviewers may also raise previously unsuspected concerns about the pivotal apixaban trial, ARISTOTLE, though no serious criticisms have been publicly raised so far.