Biotech & Health

Cat Owners Rejoice! FDA Approves First Arthritis Drug for Cats

First Antibody for Non-Human Animal Species
MBS Staff
Owner and cat high-five.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with headquarters in Silver Spring, approved what it’s calling a double first. It’s the first treatment for pain associated with osteoarthritis in cats and the first monoclonal antibody drug for any non-Human animal species.

Marketed as Solensia but scientifically known as frunevetmab, the drug is made by Parsippany, NJ -based Zoetis Inc (NYSE: ZTS), which coins itself as the largest global animal health company. 

What makes Solensia work?

The active ingredient in Solensia is a cat-specific monoclonal antibody, a type of protein that according to the FDA are laboratory-produced synthetic molecule antibodies that can restore, enhance or mimic the immune system's attack on cells.

The Solensia antibodies recognize and attach themselves to nerve proteins responsible for sending pain signals, blocking those signals from causing pain in the body.

"Treatment options for cats with osteoarthritis are very limited. Advancements in modern veterinary medicine have been instrumental in extending the lives of many animals, including cats. But with longer lives come chronic diseases, such as osteoarthritis," said Steven M. Solomon, M.P.H., D.V.M., director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.

"Today's approval marks the first treatment option to help provide relief to cats that are suffering from this condition and may significantly improve their quality of life. We also hope that today's approval of the first monoclonal antibody by the FDA for any animal species will expand research and development of other monoclonal antibody products to treat animal diseases."

Osteoarthritis affects both Humans and cats. A breakdown of the cartilage between the joints leads to the bone joints rubbing against each other bringing chronic pain, limited joint movement, and eventually malformed bone structure in joint areas.

During clinical trials, Zoetis assessed a difference between the placebo and Solensia, but the drug does have side effects, with the most common being vomiting, diarrhea, injection site pain, scabbing on the head and neck, dermatitis and pruritus (itchy skin). Despite the different side effects, the FDA said they were relatively mild.

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