Afamelanotide for prevention of phototoxicity in erythropoietic protoporphyria

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Introduction: In erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP), an inherited disorder of heme biosynthesis, accumulation of protoporphyrin IX results in acute phototoxicity. EPP patients experience severe burning pain after light exposure, which results in a markedly reduced quality of life. Afamelanotide is the first effective approved medical treatment for EPP, acting on melanocortin-1 receptors. This article aims to review afamelanotide. Areas covered: This review summarizes the chemical properties, pharmacokinetics, safety, preclinical and clinical data on afamelanotide in EPP, and post-marketing surveillance. PubMed search, manufacturers’ websites, and relevant articles used for approval by authorities were used for the literature search. Expert opinion: Afamelanotide is an α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone analog. It can activate eumelanogenesis without exposure to UV radiation. Clinical studies in EPP showed that afamelanotide treatment significantly increased exposure to sunlight and QoL. In our clinical experience afamelanotide treatment is much more effective in clinical practice than demonstrated in clinical trials and should be made available for all EPP patients meeting inclusion criteria. The 60-day interval period was not based on effectiveness studies, and therefore for some of the patients the maximum of four implants per year with the 60-day interval is insufficient. Afamelanotide is well tolerated; common adverse events were headache, fatigue, and nausea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-160
Number of pages10
JournalExpert Review of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

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© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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