The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Fintepla (fenfluramine), a Schedule IV controlled substance, for the treatment of seizures associated with Dravet syndrome in patients age 2 and older. Dravet syndrome is a life-threatening, rare and chronic form of epilepsy. It is often characterized by severe and unrelenting seizures despite medical treatment.
The effectiveness of Fintepla for the treatment of seizures associated with Dravet syndrome was demonstrated in two clinical studies in 202 subjects between ages 2 and 18. The studies measured the change from baseline in the frequency of convulsive seizures. In both studies, subjects treated with Fintepla had significantly greater reductions in the frequency of convulsive seizures during the trials than subjects who received placebo (inactive treatment). These reductions were seen within 3-4 weeks, and remained generally consistent over the 14- to 15-week treatment periods.
Fintepla labeling includes a boxed warning stating the drug is associated with valvular heart disease (VHD) and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Because of these risks, patients must have cardiac monitoring using echocardiograms performed before treatment, every six months during treatment, and once three to six months after treatment is discontinued. If the echocardiogram shows signs of VHD, PAH, or other cardiac abnormalities, health care professionals must consider the benefits and risks of continuing treatment with Fintepla for the patient.
Because of the risks of VHD and PAH, Fintepla is available only through a restricted drug distribution program, under a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS). The Fintepla REMS requires health care professionals who prescribe Fintepla and pharmacies that dispense Fintepla to be specially certified in the Fintepla REMS and that patients be enrolled in the REMS. As part of the REMS requirements, prescribers and patients must adhere to the required cardiac monitoring with echocardiograms to receive Fintepla.
The most common adverse reactions in clinical studies were decreased appetite; drowsiness, sedation and lethargy; diarrhea; constipation; abnormal echocardiogram; fatigue or lack of energy; ataxia (lack of coordination), balance disorder, gait disturbance (trouble with walking); increased blood pressure; drooling, salivary hypersecretion (saliva overproduction); pyrexia (fever); upper respiratory tract infection; vomiting; decreased weight; risk of falls; and status epilepticus.