Obeticholic Acid: A Farnesoid X Receptor Agonist for Primary Biliary Cholangitis

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Abstract

Objective: To review the pharmacology, efficacy, and safety of obeticholic acid (OCA) and determine its clinical role relative to other agents in the treatment of patients with primary biliary cholangitis (PBC). Data Sources: A PubMed search (1946 to November 2016) was conducted using the terms INT-747, obeticholic acid, OCA, farnesoid X receptor agonists, FXR agonists, primary biliary cirrhosis, and primary biliary cholangitis. Study Selection and Data Extraction: Phase II and III studies evaluating the use of OCA in PBC patients were included in this review. Data Synthesis: OCA, a farnesoid X receptor (FXR) agonist, is indicated for adult patients with PBC in combination with ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) or as monotherapy if unable to tolerate UDCA. Two clinical trials were identified evaluating OCA for the treatment of PBC. Study end points utilized biochemical markers (alkaline phosphatase [ALP] and bilirubin). A phase II study (n = 165) to determine efficacy and safety of OCA at 3 different doses (10 mg, 25 mg, 50 mg) demonstrated statistically significant reductions in ALP (P < .0001 for all OCA groups versus placebo) after 12 weeks. A phase III trial (n = 217) assessed lower OCA doses (5 mg and 10 mg) with a longer study duration (12 months). Statistically significant differences (P < .001) between the 5 to 10 mg group (46%) and the 10 mg group (47%) compared to the placebo group (10%) were found. The primary adverse effect reported in both trials was pruritus. Conclusions: OCA is the first FXR agonist approved for the treatment of PBC. Ongoing research to evaluate clinical outcomes with OCA is currently underway.

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