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FDA Panel Recommends Enbrel for Pediatric Patients
Date:6/18/2008

But experts also express concern about psoriasis drug's possible risks for children; action follows agency warning that drug label needs strengthening

WEDNESDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News) -- A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended Wednesday that the psoriasis drug Enbrel be approved for use in children who have moderate-to-severe forms of the skin disease.

The outside medical experts, in a 7-5 vote with one abstention, said the drug appears effective, but they did express concerns about whether it increases risks of malignancy and serious infections like tuberculosis, according to Dow Jones.

The panel's action follows an FDA announcement Monday that it wants a beefed up label on the drug, whether or not it gets expanded approval for children, to include warnings that its use could lead to children's deaths as well as moderate-to-severe infections. The drug, manufactured by Amgen, is already approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis in adults and children, and psoriasis in adults only.

The agency staff said Monday that a review of its database of adverse events showed there were cases of serious malignancies, infections and neurological problems tied to pediatric patients who took Enbrel (etanercept).

The advisory panel's concerns about Enbrel were similar to those raised Tuesday when it voted unanimously to recommend approval of ustekinumab, a proposed drug by Johnson & Johnson to treat psoriasis in adults, according to Dow Jones.

The FDA had warned last Friday, on its Web site, that while ustekinumab may be effective in treating moderate-to-severe psoriasis, it also may raise users' risk of cancer. The agency also said that it probably needed to evaluate additional safety data before deciding whether the drug increased the likelihood of cancer, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Although the FDA generally follows its experts' recommendati
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