FDA approves first medicine for weight management in cats with chronic kidney disease

A newly approved medication could prolong the lives of cats diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD) by helping them maintain a healthy weight.

The US Food and Drug Administration announced on October 18 that it had approved Elura (capromorelin oral solution) for management of weight loss in cats. It’s the first drug approved specifically for the management of weight loss in cats with CKD.

Weight loss is common in cats with CKD prediagnosis, and typically continues as the disease progresses. Capromorelin, which is approved as an appetite stimulator for dogs, is a ghrelin receptor agonist that increases appetite and weight gain.

Elanco, which manufactures both products, conducted a randomized 56-day field study of 176 client-owned cats (96 female, 80 male) of various breeds who had unintended weight loss and a history of CKD. A total of 118 cats received Elura, and 58 received an oral solution without the drug.

While all the cats in the study were in stable clinical condition, most had a variety of other conditions in addition to CKD, including hyperthyroidism and hypertension, which were managed with medications. At the end of the study, more than 80% of the cats who had been given the oral solution had gained weight, compared to slightly more than 40% in the control group, some of whom had lost weight.

Elanco also conducted a six-month safety study in 32 healthy domestic shorthair cats; per the FDA, “The cats were dosed with water or Elura at one, three, or five times the labeled dose of 2 mg/kg once daily for six months. Elura caused weight gain in all treatment groups compared to the cats receiving water, and the groups that were given three and five times the labeled dose of Elura consumed more of the food offered to them than cats in the other groups.”

The most common adverse reactions observed in both studies were vomiting and hypersalivation, which were both seen more frequently in male cats. The prescription-only solution is available in 15-mL bottles with an oral dosing syringe.

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