FDA approves first treatment for feline arthritis pain

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first treatment for the control of pain associated with osteoarthritis in cats.

Zoetic Inc.’s Solensia is also the first new monoclonal antibody-based animal drug approved by the FDA for use in all animal species.

The agency explained in a press release on Thursday that frunevetmab – the active ingredient in Solensia – is a cat-specific monoclonal antibody designed to recognize and attach to a protein called nerve growth factor which is involved in the regulation of pain.


When the ingredient binds to nerve growth factor, it blocks the pain signal from reaching the brain.

Solensia has been designed to improve the quality of life of a cat suffering from osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition in which the normal cartilage cushion of the joints breaks down. The bones in the joint rub against each other, causing pain, decreased joint movement, and sometimes the formation of bone spurs or other changes in and around the joint.

The condition worsens over time and Solensia has been designed to help improve the cat’s quality of life.

“The treatment options for cats with osteoarthritis are very limited. Advances in modern veterinary medicine have helped extend the lives of many animals, including cats. But with longer lives come chronic diseases, such as than osteoarthritis,” Steven M. Solomon, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement. ‚ÄúToday’s approval marks the first treatment option to help provide relief to cats suffering from this disease and can significantly improve their quality of life. We also hope that today’s approval of the first monoclonal antibody by the FDA for all animal species will expand research. and the development of other monoclonal antibody products to treat animal diseases.”

“Feline osteoarthritis pain is generally undertreated due to a lack of effective and safe solutions for long-term use, as well as the difficulty for cat owners to administer oral medications2” , said Mike McFarland, chief medical officer of Zoetis, in a company announcement. “The approval of Solensia is a significant step forward in the control of pain related to feline osteoarthritis. Cat owners and veterinarians can be confident that Solensia, with the active ingredient frunevetmab, a monoclonal antibody (mAb) designed specifically for felines, has been studied and shown to control osteoarthritis pain and help cats move more freely again.”

The FDA evaluated the effectiveness of Solensia in two studies and three clinical evaluations that measured different aspects of pain associated with osteoarthritis in cats.


The trials were blinded, randomized, controlled field studies involving cats belonging to clients with clinical signs of osteoarthritis and the subjects’ veterinarians evaluated the cats based on orthopedic examinations before and after treatment.

The owners of the cats provided baseline scores of their felines’ levels of impairment in certain activities compared to before they developed osteoarthritis. The owners then assessed their cats’ responses after receiving the treatment.

A cat lies in the sun on a backyard patio

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

Solensia is only available on prescription from a licensed veterinarian as professional expertise is required to correctly diagnose osteoarthritis in cats, administer the injection and monitor the safe use of the product.

Solensia is given by injection once a month, with a dosage based on the weight of the animal.

The most common side effects in cats treated with Solensia included vomiting, diarrhea, pain at the injection site, scabs on the head and neck, dermatitis and pruritus.


The FDA said the effects were “relatively mild” without requiring “discontinuation of treatment.”

“The FDA encourages cat owners to work with their veterinary team to report any adverse events or side effects potentially related to the use of any medication, including Solensia,” the agency added.

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