Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Nucala (mepolizumab) for injection is an interleukin-5 antagonist monoclonal antibody (IgG1 kappa) indicated for add-on maintenance treatment of patients with severe asthma aged 12 years and older, and with an eosinophilic phenotype. Common side effects of Nucala include headache, injection site reaction, back pain, fatigue, flu symptoms, urinary tract infection (UTI), abdominal pain, itching, eczema, and muscle spasms.
The dose of Nucala is 100 mg administered subcutaneously once every 4 weeks. Nucala may interact with other drugs. Tell your doctor all medications and supplements you use. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or become pregnant before using Nucala. There is a pregnancy exposure registry that monitors pregnancy outcomes in women exposed to Nucala during pregnancy. It is unknown if Nucala passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.
Our Nucala (mepolizumab) for injection Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
The following adverse reactions are described in greater detail in other sections:
- Hypersensitivity reactions [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
- Opportunistic infections: herpes zoster [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared with rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.
Clinical Trials Experience In Severe Asthma
A total of 1,327 subjects with asthma were evaluated in 3 randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trials of 24 to 52 weeks' duration (Trials 1, 2, and 3). Of these, 1,192 had a history of 2 or more exacerbations in the year prior to enrollment despite regular use of high-dose ICS plus additional controller(s) (Trials 1 and 2), and 135 subjects required daily oral corticosteroids (OCS) in addition to regular use of high-dose ICS plus additional controller(s) to maintain asthma control (Trial 3). All subjects had markers of eosinophilic airway inflammation [see Clinical Studies]. Of the subjects enrolled, 59% were female, 85% were white, and ages ranged from 12 to 82 years. Mepolizumab was administered subcutaneously or intravenously once every 4 weeks; 263 subjects received NUCALA (mepolizumab 100 mg SC) for at least 24 weeks. Serious adverse events that occurred in more than 1 subject and in a greater percentage of subjects receiving NUCALA 100 mg (n = 263) than placebo (n = 257) included 1 event, herpes zoster (2 subjects vs. 0 subjects, respectively). Approximately 2% of subjects receiving NUCALA 100 mg withdrew from clinical trials due to adverse events compared with 3% of subjects receiving placebo.
The incidence of adverse reactions in the first 24 weeks of treatment in the 2 confirmatory efficacy and safety trials (Trials 2 and 3) with NUCALA 100 mg is shown in Table 1.
Table 1: Adverse Reactions with NUCALA with ≥3%
Incidence and More Common than Placebo in Subjects with Asthma (Trials 2 and 3)
|Adverse Reaction||NUCALA (Mepolizumab 100 mg Subcutaneous)
(n = 263) %
(n = 257) %
|Injection site reaction||8||3|
|Urinary tract infection||3||2|
|Abdominal pain upper||3||2|
Adverse reactions from Trial 1 with 52 weeks of treatment with mepolizumab 75 mg intravenous (IV) (n = 153) or placebo (n = 155) and with ≥3% incidence and more common than placebo and not shown in Table 1 were: abdominal pain, allergic rhinitis, asthenia, bronchitis, cystitis, dizziness, dyspnea, ear infection, gastroenteritis, lower respiratory tract infection, musculoskeletal pain, nasal congestion, nasopharyngitis, nausea, pharyngitis, pyrexia, rash, toothache, viral infection, viral respiratory tract infection, and vomiting. In addition, 3 cases of herpes zoster occurred in subjects receiving mepolizumab 75 mg IV compared with 2 subjects in the placebo group.
Systemic Reactions, Including Hypersensitivity Reactions
In Trials 1, 2, and 3 described above, the percentage of subjects who experienced systemic (allergic and non-allergic) reactions was 5% in the placebo group and 3% in the group receiving NUCALA 100 mg. Systemic allergic/hypersensitivity reactions were reported by 2% of subjects in the placebo group and 1% of subjects in the group receiving NUCALA 100 mg. The most commonly reported manifestations of systemic allergic/hypersensitivity reactions reported in the group receiving NUCALA 100 mg included rash, pruritus, headache, and myalgia. Systemic non-allergic reactions were reported by 2% of subjects in the group receiving NUCALA 100 mg and 3% of subjects in the placebo group. The most commonly reported manifestations of systemic non-allergic reactions reported in the group receiving NUCALA 100 mg included rash, flushing, and myalgia. A majority of the systemic reactions in subjects receiving NUCALA 100 mg (5/7) were experienced on the day of dosing.
Injection Site Reactions
Injection site reactions (e.g., pain, erythema, swelling, itching, burning sensation) occurred at a rate of 8% in subjects receiving NUCALA 100 mg compared with 3% in subjects receiving placebo.
Nine hundred ninety-eight subjects received NUCALA 100 mg in ongoing open-label extension studies, during which additional cases of herpes zoster were reported. The overall adverse event profile has been similar to the asthma trials described above.
Clinical Trials Experience In Eosinophilic Granulomatosis With Polyangiitis
A total of 136 subjects with EGPA were evaluated in 1 randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter, 52-week treatment trial. Subjects received 300 mg of NUCALA or placebo subcutaneously once every 4 weeks. Subjects enrolled had a diagnosis of EGPA for at least 6 months prior to enrollment with a history of relapsing or refractory disease and were on a stable dosage of oral prednisolone or prednisone of greater than or equal to 7.5 mg/day (but not greater than 50 mg/day) for at least 4 weeks prior to enrollment [see Clinical Studies]. Of the subjects enrolled, 59% were female, 92% were white, and ages ranged from 20 to 71 years. No additional adverse reactions were identified to those reported in the severe asthma trials.
Systemic Reactions, Including Hypersensitivity Reactions
In the 52-week trial, the percentage of subjects who experienced systemic (allergic and nonallergic) reactions was 1% in the placebo group and 6% in the group receiving 300 mg of NUCALA. Systemic allergic/hypersensitivity reactions were reported by 1% of subjects in the placebo group and 4% of subjects in the group receiving 300 mg of NUCALA. The manifestations of systemic allergic/hypersensitivity reactions reported in the group receiving 300 mg of NUCALA included rash, pruritus, flushing, fatigue, hypertension, warm sensation in trunk and neck, cold extremities, dyspnea, and stridor. Systemic non-allergic reactions were reported by 1 (1%) subject in the group receiving 300 mg of NUCALA and no subjects in the placebo group. The reported manifestation of systemic non-allergic reactions reported in the group receiving 300 mg of NUCALA was angioedema. Half of the systemic reactions in subjects receiving 300 mg of NUCALA (2/4) were experienced on the day of dosing.
Injection Site Reactions
Injection site reactions (e.g., pain, erythema, swelling) occurred at a rate of 15% in subjects receiving NUCALA compared with 13% in subjects receiving placebo.
In subjects with asthma receiving NUCALA 100 mg, 15/260 (6%) developed anti-mepolizumab antibodies. Neutralizing antibodies were detected in 1 subject with asthma receiving NUCALA 100 mg. Anti-mepolizumab antibodies slightly increased (approximately 20%) the clearance of mepolizumab. There was no evidence of a correlation between anti-mepolizumab antibody titers and change in eosinophil level. The clinical relevance of the presence of anti-mepolizumab antibodies is not known. In subjects with EGPA receiving 300 mg of NUCALA, 1/68 (<2%) had detectable anti-mepolizumab antibodies. No neutralizing antibodies were detected in any subjects with EGPA.
The reported frequency of anti-mepolizumab antibodies may underestimate the actual frequency due to lower assay sensitivity in the presence of high drug concentration. The data reflect the percentage of patients whose test results were positive for antibodies to mepolizumab in specific assays. The observed incidence of antibody positivity in an assay is highly dependent on several factors, including assay sensitivity and specificity, assay methodology, sample handling, timing of sample collection, concomitant medications, and underlying disease.
In addition to adverse reactions reported from clinical trials, the following adverse reactions have been identified during postapproval use of NUCALA. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure. These events have been chosen for inclusion due to either their seriousness, frequency of reporting, or causal connection to NUCALA or a combination of these factors.
Immune System Disorders
Hypersensitivity reactions, including anaphylaxis.
Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Nucala (Mepolizumab For Injection)