FDA approves Actemra as arthritis treatment for children

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug made by Genentech for treating a rare and severe form of arthritis that affects children, Genentech said.

The biotech company, the U.S. division of Swiss drug maker Roche, announced the FDA approval of Actemra (tocilizumab) for active systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis. SJIA has the worst long-term prognosis of all varieties of childhood arthritis.

“Today’s FDA approval marks an important advance in the treatment of SJIA, a debilitating condition affecting children,” Genentech head of global product development and chief medical officer Hal Barron said. “As the first and only approved treatment for SJIA, Actemra offers a new option for this extremely difficult-to-treat disease. This approval also demonstrates our commitment to science and patients with high unmet medical need, including orphan diseases.”

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