|Trade names||Olumiant, Baricinix|
|Other names||INCB28050, LY3009104|
|By mouth (tablets)|
|Elimination half-life||12.5 hours|
|Excretion||75% urine, 20% faeces|
|CompTox Dashboard (EPA)|
|Chemical and physical data|
|Molar mass||371.42 g·mol−1|
|3D model (JSmol)|
Baricitinib, sold under the brand name Olumiant among others, is a drug for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in adults whose disease was not well controlled using RA medications called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists. It acts as an inhibitor of janus kinase (JAK), blocking the subtypes JAK1 and JAK2. The drug is approved for use in the European Union and the United States.
In February 2017, baricitinib was approved for use in the EU as a second-line therapy for moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis in adults, either alone or in combination with methotrexate.
In April 2017, baricitinib received a complete response letter (CRL) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 2017. The letter indicated that the FDA was unable to approve the application in its existing form. Specifically, the FDA indicated that additional clinical data were needed to determine the most appropriate doses and that additional data was necessary to further characterize safety concerns across treatment arms.
On 23 April 2018, an FDA Advisory Committee recommended approval of baricitinib 2 mg for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis but did not recommend the 4 mg dose, citing serious adverse events. On 31 May 2018, the FDA approved barictinib for the treatment of adult patients with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis who have had an inadequate response to one or more TNF antagonist therapies.
In November 2020, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the combination of baricitinib with remdesivir, for the treatment of suspected or laboratory confirmed COVID-19 in hospitalized people two years of age or older requiring supplemental oxygen, invasive mechanical ventilation, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
In studies, upper respiratory tract infections and high blood cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia) occurred in more than 10% of patients. Less common side effects included other infections such as herpes zoster, herpes simplex, urinary tract infections, and gastroenteritis.
Being metabolized only to a small extent, the substance has a low potential for interactions. In studies, inhibitors of the liver enzymes CYP3A4, CYP2C19, and CYP2C9, as well as the CYP3A4 inducer rifampicin, had no relevant influence on baricitinib concentrations in the bloodstream. While baricitinib blocks a number of transporter proteins in vitro, clinically relevant interactions via this mechanism are considered very unlikely, except perhaps for the cation transporter SLC22A1 (OCT1).
Mechanism of action
Baricitinib is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor that reversibly inhibits Janus kinase 1 with a half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 5.9 nM and Janus kinase 2 with an IC50 of 5.7 nM. Tyrosine kinase 2, which belongs to the same enzyme family, is affected less (IC50 = 53 nM), and Janus kinase 3 far less (IC50 > 400 nM). Via a signal transduction pathway involving STAT proteins, this ultimately modulates gene expression in immunological cells.
The substance is quickly absorbed from the gut with an absolute bioavailability of 79%. It reaches highest blood plasma levels after about an hour; in different individuals the time to reach this level ranges from 0.5 to 3 hours. Food intake has no relevant influence on the drug's pharmacokinetics. 50% of the circulating baricitinib are bound to blood plasma proteins.
Less than 10% of the substance is metabolized to four different oxidation products by CYP3A4; the rest is left unchanged. Elimination half-life is 12.5 hours on average. About 75% is eliminated via the urine, and 20% via the faeces.
In April 2020, Lilly announced they were investigating the use of baricitinib for treating COVID-19 patients. The drug's anti-inflammatory activity is expected to act on the inflammatory cascade associated with COVID-19.
In November 2020, published research showed barcitinib was beneficial in treating COVID-19 patients. According to the paper "mechanistic actions of a Janus kinase-1/2 inhibitor targeting viral entry, replication and the cytokine storm, and is associated with beneficial outcomes including in severely ill elderly patients".
In a clinical trial of hospitalized patients with COVID-19, baricitinib, in combination with remdesivir, was shown to reduce time to recovery within 29 days after initiating treatment compared to patients who received a placebo with remdesivir. The safety and effectiveness of this investigational therapy for use in the treatment of COVID-19 continues to be evaluated. Baricitinib is not authorized or approved as a stand-alone treatment for COVID-19.
The data supporting the US FDA's Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for baricitinib combined with remdesivir are based on a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial (ACTT-2), which was conducted by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). This clinical trial evaluated whether baricitinib impacted how long it took for subjects who were also taking remdesivir to recover from COVID-19. The trial followed patients for 29 days and included 1,033 patients with moderate or severe COVID-19; 515 patients received baricitinib plus remdesivir, and 518 patients received placebo plus remdesivir. Recovery was defined as either being discharged from the hospital or being hospitalized but not requiring supplemental oxygen and no longer requiring ongoing medical care. The median time to recovery from COVID-19 was seven days for baricitinib plus remdesivir and eight days for placebo plus remdesivir. The odds of a patient's condition progressing to death or being ventilated at day 29 was lower in the baricitinib plus remdesivir group versus the placebo plus remdesivir group. The odds of clinical improvement at day 15 was higher in the baricitinib plus remdesivir group versus the placebo plus remdesivir group. For all of these endpoints, the effects were statistically significant. The EUA was issued to Eli Lilly and Company.
In November 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its guideline on therapeutics for COVID-19 to include a conditional recommendation against the use of remdesivir, triggered by results from the WHO Solidarity trial.
Society and culture
In January 2016, Eli Lilly submitted a new drug application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the approval of baricitinib to treat moderately-to-severely active rheumatoid arthritis.
In December 2016, the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended the approval of baricitinib as a therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. European Union approval was granted in February 2017.
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