Background: Cancer cachexia is a syndrome characterized by anorexia and decreased body weight. This study evaluated the efficacy and safety of anamorelin, an orally active, selective ghrelin receptor agonist, in patients with cancer cachexia and a low body mass index (BMI). Methods: This multicenter, open-label, single-arm study enrolled Japanese patients with non–small cell lung cancer or gastrointestinal cancer with cancer cachexia (BMI < 20 kg/m2, involuntary weight loss > 2% in the last 6 months, and anorexia). Patients were administered 100 mg of anamorelin once daily for up to 24 weeks. The primary end point was a composite clinical response (CCR) at 9 weeks, which was defined as an increase in body weight of ≥5% from the baseline, an increase of ≥2 points in the score of the 5-item Anorexia Symptom Scale of the Functional Assessment of Anorexia/Cachexia Therapy, and being alive. Results: One hundred two patients were eligible and enrolled. The means and standard deviations for age and BMI were 71.0 ± 8.2 years and 17.47 ± 1.48 kg/m2, respectively. The CCR rate at 9 weeks was 25.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 18.3%-35.3%), which met the primary end point with a lower 95% CI exceeding the prespecified minimum of 8%. Improvements in body weight and anorexia were durable and were accompanied by improvements in patients' global impression of change for appetite/eating-related symptoms and overall condition. Adverse drug reactions occurred in 37 of 101 treated patients (36.6%), with the most common being glycosylated hemoglobin increases, constipation, and peripheral edema. Conclusions: Anamorelin improved body weight and anorexia-related symptoms in patients with cancer cachexia and a low BMI with durable efficacy and favorable safety and tolerability. Lay Summary: Anamorelin is a drug that stimulates appetite and promotes weight gain. This clinical trial was aimed at determining its efficacy and safety in Japanese cancer patients with a low body mass index and cachexia, a syndrome associated with anorexia and weight loss. Anamorelin was found to improve body weight and anorexia-related symptoms in these patients, and these effects were durable for up to 24 weeks. Moreover, anamorelin was generally well tolerated. These findings suggest that anamorelin is a valuable treatment option for patients with cancer cachexia and a low body mass index.
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