Pfizer has been working with Lilly on the development of a novel treatment for pain, recently announcing positive results in patients with pain associated with osteoarthritis.

Tanezumab is a monoclonal antibody that blocks nerve growth factor (NGF), levels of which are increased by injury, inflammation and in chronic pain. The latest data come from a trial in 698 patients with pain due to osteoarthritis and show that, compared with placebo, those given two doses of tanezumab eight weeks apart experienced significant improvement in pain and physical function. This was supported by improvement in patients’ global assessment of their osteoarthritis.

Safety with such novel therapies is a priority. In this study, Pfizer and Lilly say tanezumab was well tolerated and the discontinuation rate due to adverse events was one per cent. However, rapidly progressive osteoarthritis was reported in patients treated with tanezumab (frequency <1.5%) but not with placebo.

Tanezumab is the first non-opioid, non-NSAID agent developed for pain for many years. It was awarded Fast Track designation by the US regulatory authority in June 2017 to facilitate rapid development and review because it might serve an unmet need. There is currently no hint that it may be considered as a potential treatment for haemarthropathy but that’s certainly an unmet need. Tanezumab is also under evaluation in patients with cancer pain and chronic lower back pain. 

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