Medical Breakthrough for Cats

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved SolensiaTM to control the pain of osteoarthritis (OA) in cats, helping improve their mobility, comfort and overall well-being. Solensia is a once-monthly injection administered in a veterinary clinic.

Feline OA is a highly prevalent condition affecting nearly 40% of all cats. OA occurs when the protective tissue in the joints (cartilage) is worn down, causing bones to rub together. This makes moving harder and causes severe pain. Without treatment, OA pain can worsen over time and can seriously affect a cat’s long-term health and well-being.

This condition has typically been undertreated because of a lack of options, but this new treatment could be a game changer. Solensia is a monoclonal antibody therapy administered in the clinic that targets Nerve Growth Factor to control feline OA pain. You may have heard of monoclonal antibody therapy being used in the fight against COVID-19. This is the first monoclonal antibody treatment approved by the FDA for animals.

Frunevetmab, the active ingredient in Solensia, is a cat-specific monoclonal antibody (a type of protein) designed to recognize and attach to a protein called nerve growth factor (NGF) that is involved in the regulation of pain. When frunevetmab binds to NGF, it prevents the pain signal from reaching the brain.

“Advancements in modern veterinary medicine have been instrumental in extending the lives of many animals, including cats. But with longer lives come chronic diseases, such as osteoarthritis,” said FDA Director for Veterinary Medicine Steven M. Solomon, M.P.H., D.V.M. “We hope that the approval of the first monoclonal antibody by the FDA for any animal species will expand research and development of other monoclonal antibody products to treat animal diseases.”

Because of the difficulty in assessing chronic pain levels in cats, the FDA looked at whether the overall evidence supported the conclusion that Solensia was effective in controlling pain associated with osteoarthritis in cats.

The effectiveness of Solensia was evaluated in two effectiveness studies using three clinical assessments that measured different aspects of pain associated with osteoarthritis in cats.

Overall, the cats in the treatment group had better assessment scores than those in the control group.

The most common side effects seen in cats treated with Solensia included vomiting, diarrhea, injection site pain, scabbing on the head and neck, dermatitis and pruritus (itchy skin). These effects were relatively mild and did not require cessation of treatment.