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Mechanism of Action

Sorafenib is a kinase inhibitor that decreases tumor cell proliferation in vitro. Sorafenib was shown to inhibit multiple intracellular (CRAF, BRAF and mutant BRAF) and cell surface kinases (KIT, FLT-3, RET, VEGFR-1, VEGFR-2, VEGFR-3, and PDGFR-). Several of these kinases are thought to be involved in tumor cell signaling, angiogenesis, and apoptosis. Sorafenib inhibited tumor growth and angiogenesis of human hepatocellular carcinoma and renal cell carcinoma, and several other human tumor xenografts in immunocompromised mice.


Cardiac Electrophysiology

The effect of NEXAVAR 400 mg twice daily on the QTc interval was evaluated in a multi-center, open-label, non-randomized trial in 53 patients with advanced cancer. No large changes in the mean QTc intervals (that is, > 20 ms) from baseline were detected in the trial. After one 28-day treatment cycle, the largest mean QTc interval change of 8.5 ms (upper bound of two-sided 90% confidence interval, 13.3 ms) was observed at 6 hours post-dose on day 1 of cycle 2 [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].


After administration of NEXAVAR tablets, the mean relative bioavailability was 38–49% when compared to an oral solution. The mean elimination half-life of sorafenib was approximately 25 to 48 hours. Multiple doses of NEXAVAR for 7 days resulted in a 2.5- to 7-fold accumulation compared to a single dose. Steady-state plasma sorafenib concentrations were achieved within 7 days, with a peak-to-trough ratio of mean concentrations of less than 2.

Absorption and Distribution

Following oral administration, sorafenib reached peak plasma levels in approximately 3 hours. With a moderate-fat meal (30% fat; 700 calories), bioavailability was similar to that in the fasted state. With a high-fat meal (50% fat; 900 calories), bioavailability was reduced by 29% compared to that in the fasted state. It is recommended that NEXAVAR be administered without food [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].

Mean Cmax and AUC increased less than proportionally beyond oral doses of 400 mg administered twice daily. In vitro binding of sorafenib to human plasma proteins was 99.5%.

Metabolism and Elimination

Sorafenib undergoes oxidative metabolism by hepatic CYP3A4, as well as glucuronidation by UGT1A9. Inducers of CYP3A4 activity can decrease the systemic exposure of sorafenib [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Sorafenib accounted for approximately 70–85% of the circulating analytes in plasma at steady-state. Eight metabolites of sorafenib have been identified, of which 5 have been detected in plasma. The main circulating metabolite of sorafenib, the pyridine N-oxide that comprises approximately 9–16% of circulating analytes at steady-state, showed in vitro potency similar to that of sorafenib.

Following oral administration of a 100 mg dose of a solution formulation of sorafenib, 96% of the dose was recovered within 14 days, with 77% of the dose excreted in feces and 19% of the dose excreted in urine as glucuronidated metabolites. Unchanged sorafenib, accounting for 51% of the dose, was found in feces but not in urine.

Effects of Age, Gender and Race

A study of the pharmacokinetics of sorafenib indicated that the mean AUC of sorafenib in Asians (N=78) was 30% lower than in Caucasians (N=40). Gender and age do not have a clinically meaningful effect on the pharmacokinetics of sorafenib.

Renal Impairment

Mild (CrCl 50-80 mL/min), moderate (CrCl 30 - < 50 mL/min), and severe (CrCl < 30 mL/min) renal impairment do not affect the pharmacokinetics of sorafenib. No dose adjustment is necessary [see Use in Specific Populations].

Hepatic Impairment

Mild (Child-Pugh A) and moderate (Child-Pugh B) hepatic impairment do not affect the pharmacokinetics of sorafenib. No dose adjustment is necessary [see Use In Specific Populations].

Drug-Drug Interactions

Studies in human liver microsomes demonstrated that sorafenib competitively inhibited CYP2B6, CYP2C8, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, CYP2D6, and CYP3A4. However, NEXAVAR 400 mg twice daily for 28 days with substrates of CYP3A4, CYP2D6 and CYP2C19 did not increase the systemic exposure of these substrates [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Studies with cultured human hepatocytes demonstrated that sorafenib did not increase CYP1A2 and CYP3A4 activities, suggesting that sorafenib is unlikely to induce CYP1A2 or CYP3A4 in humans.

Sorafenib inhibits glucuronidation by UGT1A1 and UGT1A9 in vitro. NEXAVAR could increase the systemic exposure of concomitantly administered drugs that are UGT1A1 or UGT1A9 substrates.

Sorafenib inhibited P-glycoprotein in vitro. NEXAVAR could increase the concentrations of concomitantly administered drugs that are P-glycoprotein substrates.

Clinical Studies

The clinical safety and efficacy of NEXAVAR have been studied in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

Hepatocellular Carcinoma

The HCC Study was a Phase 3, international, multicenter, randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial in patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma. Overall survival was the primary endpoint. A total of 602 patients were randomized; 299 to NEXAVAR 400 mg twice daily and 303 to matching placebo.

Demographics and baseline disease characteristics were similar between the NEXAVAR and placebo-treated groups with regard to age, gender, race, performance status, etiology (including hepatitis B, hepatitis C and alcoholic liver disease), TNM stage (stage I: < 1% vs. < 1%; stage II: 10.4% vs. 8.3%; stage III: 37.8% vs. 43.6%; stage IV: 50.8% vs. 46.9%), absence of both macroscopic vascular invasion and extrahepatic tumor spread (30.1% vs. 30.0%), and Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer stage (stage B: 18.1% vs. 16.8%; stage C: 81.6% vs. 83.2%; stage D: < 1% vs. 0%). Liver impairment by Child-Pugh score was comparable between the NEXAVAR and placebo-treated groups (Class A: 95% vs. 98%; B: 5% vs. 2%). Only one patient with Child-Pugh class C was entered. Prior treatments included surgical resection procedures (19.1% vs. 20.5%), locoregional therapies (including radiofrequency ablation, percutaneous ethanol injection and transarterial chemoembolization; 38.8% vs. 40.6%), radiotherapy (4.3% vs. 5.0%) and systemic therapy (3.0% vs. 5.0%).

The trial was stopped for efficacy following a pre-specified second interim analysis for survival showing a statistically significant advantage for NEXAVAR over placebo for overall survival (HR: 0.69, p= 0.00058) (see Table 4 and Figure 1). This advantage was consistent across all subsets analyzed.

Final analysis of time to tumor progression (TTP) based on data from an earlier time point (by independent radiologic review) also was significantly longer in the NEXAVAR arm (HR: 0.58, p=0.000007) (see Table 4).

Table 4: Efficacy Results from HCC Study

Efficacy Parameter NEXAVAR
Hazard Ratio1 (95% CI) P-value (log-rank test2)
Overall Survival
Median, months 10.7 7.9 0.69 0.00058
(95% CI) (9.4, 13.3) (6.8, 9.1) (0.55, 0.87)  
No. of events 143 178    
Time to Progression3
Median, months 5.5 2.8 0.58 0.000007
(95% CI) (4.1, 6.9) (2.7, 3.9) (0.45, 0.74)  
No. of events 107 156    
CI=Confidence interval
1Hazard ratio, sorafenib/placebo, stratified Cox model
2Stratified log rank (for the interim analysis of survival, the stopping boundary one-sided alpha = 0.0077)
3The time-to-progression (TTP) analysis, based on independent radiologic review, was based on data from an earlier time point than the survival analysis

Figure 1: Kaplan-Meier Curve of Overall Survival in HCC Study (Intent-to-Treat Population)

NEXAVAR (sorafenib) Figure 1 Illustration

Renal Cell Carcinoma

The safety and efficacy of NEXAVAR in the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) were studied in the following two randomized controlled clinical trials.

RCC Study 1 was a Phase 3, international, multicenter, randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial in patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma who had received one prior systemic therapy. Primary study endpoints included overall survival and progression-free survival (PFS). Tumor response rate was a secondary endpoint. The PFS analysis included 769 patients stratified by MSKCC (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) prognostic risk category (low or intermediate) and country and randomized to NEXAVAR 400 mg twice daily (N=384) or to placebo (N=385).

Table 5 summarizes the demographic and disease characteristics of the study population analyzed. Baseline demographics and disease characteristics were well balanced for both treatment groups. The median time from initial diagnosis of RCC to randomization was 1.6 and 1.9 years for the NEXAVAR and placebo-treated groups, respectively.

Table 5: Demographic and Disease Characteristics – RCC Study 1

Characteristics NEXAVAR
n (%) n (%)
  Male 267 (70) 287 (75)
  Female 116 (30) 98 (25)
  White 276 (72) 278 (73)
  Black/Asian/ Hispanic/Other 11 (3) 10 (2)
  Not reported a 97 (25) 97 (25)
Age group
   < 65 years 255 (67) 280 (73)
   ≥ 65 years 127 (33) 103 (27)
ECOG performance status at baseline
  0 184 (48) 180 (47)
  1 191 (50) 201 (52)
  2 6 (2) 1 ( < 1)
  Not reported 3 ( < 1) 3 ( < 1)
MSKCC prognostic risk category
  Low 200 (52) 194 (50
  Intermediate 184 (48) 191 (50
Prior IL-2 and/or interferon
  Yes 319 (83) 313 (81
  No 65 (17) 72 (19
a Race was not collected from the 186 patients enrolled in France due to local regulations. In 8 other patients, race was not available at the time of analysis.

Progression-free survival, defined as the time from randomization to progression or death from any cause, whichever occurred earlier, was evaluated by blinded independent radiological review using RECIST criteria.

Figure 2 depicts Kaplan-Meier curves for PFS. The PFS analysis was based on a two-sided Log-Rank test stratified by MSKCC prognostic risk category and country.

Figure 2: Kaplan-Meier Curves for Progression-free Survival – RCC Study 1

NEXAVAR (sorafenib) Figure 2 Illustration

NOTE: HR is from Cox regression model with the following covariates: MSKCC prognostic risk category and country. P-value is from two-sided Log-Rank test stratified by MSKCC prognostic risk category and country.

The median PFS for patients randomized to NEXAVAR was 167 days compared to 84 days for patients randomized to placebo. The estimated hazard ratio (risk of progression with NEXAVAR compared to placebo) was 0.44 (95% CI: 0.35, 0.55).

A series of patient subsets were examined in exploratory univariate analyses of PFS. The subsets included age above or below 65 years, ECOG PS 0 or 1, MSKCC prognostic risk category, whether the prior therapy was for progressive metastatic disease or for an earlier disease setting and time from diagnosis of less than or greater than 1.5 years. The effect of NEXAVAR on PFS was consistent across these subsets, including patients with no prior IL-2 or interferon therapy (N=137; 65 patients receiving NEXAVAR and 72 placebo), for whom the median PFS was 172 days on NEXAVAR compared to 85 days on placebo.

Tumor response was determined by independent radiologic review according to RECIST criteria. Overall, of 672 patients who were evaluable for response, 7 (2%) NEXAVAR-treated patients and 0 (0%) placebo-treated patients had a confirmed partial response. Thus the gain in PFS in NEXAVAR-treated patients primarily reflects the stable disease population.

At the time of a planned interim survival analysis, based on 220 deaths, overall survival was longer for NEXAVAR than placebo with a hazard ratio (NEXAVAR over placebo) of 0.72. This analysis did not meet the prespecified criteria for statistical significance. Additional analyses are planned as the survival data mature.

RCC Study 2 was a Phase 2 randomized discontinuation trial in patients with metastatic malignancies, including RCC. The primary endpoint was the percentage of randomized patients remaining progression-free at 24 weeks. All patients received NEXAVAR for the first 12 weeks. Radiologic assessment was repeated at week 12. Patients with < 25% change in bi-dimensional tumor measurements from baseline were randomized to NEXAVAR or placebo for a further 12 weeks. Patients who were randomized to placebo were permitted to cross over to open-label NEXAVAR upon progression. Patients with tumor shrinkage ≥ 25% continued NEXAVAR, whereas patients with tumor growth ≥ 25% discontinued treatment.

Two hundred and two patients with advanced RCC were enrolled into RCC Study 2, including patients who had received no prior therapy and patients with tumor histology other than clear cell carcinoma. After the initial 12 weeks of NEXAVAR, 79 patients with RCC continued on open-label NEXAVAR, and 65 patients were randomized to NEXAVAR or placebo. After an additional 12 weeks, at week 24, for the 65 randomized patients, the progression-free rate was significantly higher in patients randomized to NEXAVAR (16/32, 50%) than in patients randomized to placebo (6/33, 18%) (p=0.0077). Progression-free survival was significantly longer in the NEXAVAR-treated group (163 days) than in the placebo-treated group (41 days) (p=0.0001, HR=0.29).

Last reviewed on RxList: 12/2/2013
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.


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