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Nexavar (Sorafenib) - Description and Clinical Pharmacology



NEXAVAR, a kinase inhibitor, is the tosylate salt of sorafenib.

Sorafenib tosylate has the chemical name 4-(4-{3-[4-Chloro-3-(trifluoromethyl)phenyl]ureido}phenoxy)N2-methylpyridine-2-carboxamide 4-methylbenzenesulfonate and its structural formula is:

Sorafenib tosylate is a white to yellowish or brownish solid with a molecular formula of C21H16ClF3N4O3 x C7H8O3S and a molecular weight of 637.0 g/mole. Sorafenib tosylate is practically insoluble in aqueous media, slightly soluble in ethanol and soluble in PEG 400.

Each red, round NEXAVAR film-coated tablet contains sorafenib tosylate (274 mg) equivalent to 200 mg of sorafenib and the following inactive ingredients: croscarmellose sodium, microcrystalline cellulose, hypromellose, sodium lauryl sulphate, magnesium stearate, polyethylene glycol, titanium dioxide and ferric oxide red.


Mechanism of Action

Sorafenib is a kinase inhibitor that decreases tumor cell proliferation in vitro.

Sorafenib was shown to inhibit multiple intracellular (c-CRAF, BRAF and mutant BRAF) and cell surface kinases (KIT, FLT- 3, RET, RET/PTC, VEGFR-1, VEGFR- 2, VEGFR- 3, and PDGFR-ß). Several of these kinases are thought to be involved in tumor cell signaling, angiogenesis and apoptosis. Sorafenib inhibited tumor growth of HCC, RCC, and DTC human tumor xenografts in immunocompromised mice. Reductions in tumor angiogenesis were seen in models of HCC and RCC upon sorafenib treatment, and increases in tumor apoptosis were observed in models of HCC, RCC, and DTC.


Cardiac Electrophysiology

The effect of NEXAVAR 400 mg twice daily on the QTc interval was evaluated in a multi-center, open-label, non-randomized trial in 53 patients with advanced cancer. No large changes in the mean QTc intervals (that is, >20 ms) from baseline were detected in the trial. After one 28-day treatment cycle, the largest mean QTc interval change of 8.5 ms (upper bound of two-sided 90% confidence interval, 13.3 ms) was observed at 6 hours post-dose on day 1 of cycle 2 [see Warnings and Precautions ].


The mean elimination half-life of sorafenib was approximately 25 to 48 hours. Multiple doses of NEXAVAR for 7 days resulted in a 2.5- to 7-fold accumulation compared to a single dose. Steady-state plasma sorafenib concentrations were achieved within 7 days, with a peak-to-trough ratio of mean concentrations of less than 2.

The steady-state concentrations of sorafenib following administration of 400 mg NEXAVAR twice daily were evaluated in DTC, RCC and HCC patients. Patients with DTC have mean steady-state concentrations that are 1.8-fold higher than patients with HCC and 2.3-fold higher than those with RCC. The reason for increased sorafenib concentrations in DTC patients is unknown.

Absorption and Distribution: After administration of NEXAVAR tablets, the mean relative bioavailability was 38–49% when compared to an oral solution. Following oral administration, sorafenib reached peak plasma levels in approximately 3 hours. With a moderate-fat meal (30% fat; 700 calories), bioavailability was similar to that in the fasted state. With a high-fat meal (50% fat; 900 calories), bioavailability was reduced by 29% compared to that in the fasted state. It is recommended that NEXAVAR be administered without food [see Dosage and Administration ( 2.1 )].

Mean Cmax and AUC increased less than proportionally beyond oral doses of 400 mg administered twice daily. In vitro binding of sorafenib to human plasma proteins was 99.5%.

Metabolism and Elimination: Sorafenib undergoes oxidative metabolism by hepatic CYP3A4, as well as glucuronidation by UGT1A9. Inducers of CYP3A4 activity can decrease the systemic exposure of sorafenib [see Drug Interactions ].

Sorafenib accounted for approximately 70–85% of the circulating analytes in plasma at steady-state. Eight metabolites of sorafenib have been identified, of which 5 have been detected in plasma. The main circulating metabolite of sorafenib, the pyridine N-oxide that comprises approximately 9–16% of circulating analytes at steady-state, showed in vitro potency similar to that of sorafenib.

Following oral administration of a 100 mg dose of a solution formulation of sorafenib, 96% of the dose was recovered within 14 days, with 77% of the dose excreted in feces and 19% of the dose excreted in urine as glucuronidated metabolites. Unchanged sorafenib, accounting for 51% of the dose, was found in feces but not in urine.

Effects of Age, Gender and Race: A study of the pharmacokinetics of sorafenib indicated that the mean AUC of sorafenib in Asians (N=78) was 30% lower than in Caucasians (N=40). Gender and age do not have a clinically meaningful effect on the pharmacokinetics of sorafenib.

Renal Impairment: Mild (CLcr 50-80 mL/min), moderate (CLcr 30 - <50 mL/min), and severe (CLcr <30 mL/min) renal impairment do not affect the pharmacokinetics of sorafenib. No dose adjustment is necessary [see Use in Specific Populations].

Hepatic Impairment: Mild (Child-Pugh A) and moderate (Child-Pugh B) hepatic impairment do not affect the pharmacokinetics of sorafenib. No dose adjustment is necessary [see Use in Specific Populations ].

Drug-Drug Interactions: Studies in human liver microsomes demonstrated that sorafenib competitively inhibited CYP2B6, CYP2C8, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, CYP2D6, and CYP3A4. However, NEXAVAR 400 mg twice daily for 28 days with substrates of CYP3A4, CYP2D6 and CYP2C19 did not increase the systemic exposure of these substrates [see Drug Interactions ( 7.3 )].

Studies with cultured human hepatocytes demonstrated that sorafenib did not increase CYP1A2 and CYP3A4 activities, suggesting that sorafenib is unlikely to induce CYP1A2 or CYP3A4 in humans.

Sorafenib inhibits glucuronidation by UGT1A1 and UGT1A9 in vitro. NEXAVAR could increase the systemic exposure of concomitantly administered drugs that are UGT1A1 or UGT1A9 substrates.

Sorafenib inhibited P-glycoprotein in vitro. NEXAVAR could increase the concentrations of concomitantly administered drugs that are P-glycoprotein substrates.


Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility

Carcinogenicity studies have not been performed with sorafenib.

Sorafenib was clastogenic when tested in an in vitro mammalian cell assay (Chinese hamster ovary) in the presence of metabolic activation. Sorafenib was not mutagenic in the in vitro Ames bacterial cell assay or clastogenic in an in vivo mouse micronucleus assay. One intermediate in the manufacturing process, which is also present in the final drug substance (<0.15%), was positive for mutagenesis in an in vitro bacterial cell assay (Ames test) when tested independently.

No specific studies with sorafenib have been conducted in animals to evaluate the effect on fertility. However, results from the repeat-dose toxicity studies suggest there is a potential for sorafenib to impair reproductive function and fertility. Multiple adverse effects were observed in male and female reproductive organs, with the rat being more susceptible than mice or dogs. Typical changes in rats consisted of testicular atrophy or degeneration, degeneration of epididymis, prostate, and seminal vesicles, central necrosis of the corpora lutea and arrested follicular development. Sorafenib-related effects on the reproductive organs of rats were manifested at daily oral doses ≥ 5 mg/kg (30 mg/m2). This dose results in an exposure (AUC) that is approximately 0.5 times the AUC in patients at the recommended human dose. Dogs showed tubular degeneration in the testes at 30 mg/kg/day (600 mg/m2/day). This dose results in an exposure that is approximately 0.3 times the AUC at the recommended human dose. Oligospermia was observed in dogs at 60 mg/kg/day (1200 mg/m2/day) of sorafenib.

Adequate contraception should be used during therapy and for at least 2 weeks after completing therapy.


The clinical safety and efficacy of NEXAVAR have been studied in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), renal cell carcinoma (RCC), and differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC).

Hepatocellular Carcinoma

The HCC Study was a Phase 3, international, multicenter, randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial in patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma. Overall survival was the primary endpoint. A total of 602 patients were randomized; 299 to NEXAVAR 400 mg twice daily and 303 to matching placebo.

Demographics and baseline disease characteristics were similar between the NEXAVAR and placebo-treated groups with regard to age, gender, race, performance status, etiology (including hepatitis B, hepatitis C and alcoholic liver disease), TNM stage (stage I: <1% vs. <1%; stage II: 10.4% vs. 8.3%; stage III: 37.8% vs. 43.6%; stage IV: 50.8% vs. 46.9%), absence of both macroscopic vascular invasion and extrahepatic tumor spread (30.1% vs. 30.0%), and Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer stage (stage B: 18.1% vs. 16.8%; stage C: 81.6% vs. 83.2%; stage D: <1% vs. 0%). Liver impairment by Child-Pugh score was comparable between the NEXAVAR and placebo-treated groups (Class A: 95% vs. 98%; B: 5% vs. 2%). Only one patient with Child-Pugh class C was entered. Prior treatments included surgical resection procedures (19.1% vs. 20.5%), locoregional therapies (including radiofrequency ablation, percutaneous ethanol injection and transarterial chemoembolization; 38.8% vs. 40.6%), radiotherapy (4.3% vs. 5.0%) and systemic therapy (3.0% vs. 5.0%).

The trial was stopped for efficacy following a pre-specified second interim analysis for survival showing a statistically significant advantage for NEXAVAR over placebo for overall survival (HR: 0.69, p= 0.00058) (see Table 4 and Figure 1). This advantage was consistent across all subsets analyzed.

Final analysis of time to tumor progression (TTP) based on data from an earlier time point (by independent radiologic review) also was significantly longer in the NEXAVAR arm (HR: 0.58, p=0.000007) (see Table 7).

Table 7: Efficacy Results from HCC Study
CI=Confidence interval




Hazard Ratio 1
(95% CI)

(log-rank test) 2

Overall Survival

Median, months
(95% CI)
No. of events

(9.4, 13.3)

(6.8, 9.1)

(0.55, 0.87)


Time to
Progression 3
Median, months
(95% CI)
No. of events


(4.1, 6.9)

(2.7, 3.9)

(0.45, 0.74)


1 Hazard ratio, sorafenib/placebo, stratified Cox model
2 Stratified log rank (for the interim analysis of survival, the stopping boundary one-sided alpha = 0.0077)
3 The time-to-progression (TTP) analysis, based on independent radiologic review, was based on data from an earlier time point than the survival analysis

Figure 1: Kaplan-Meier Curve of Overall Survival in HCC Study (Intent-to-Treat Population)

Renal Cell Carcinoma

The safety and efficacy of NEXAVAR in the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) were studied in the following two randomized controlled clinical trials.

RCC Study 1 was a Phase 3, international, multicenter, randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial in patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma who had received one prior systemic therapy. Primary study endpoints included overall survival and progression-free survival (PFS). Tumor response rate was a secondary endpoint. The PFS analysis included 769 patients stratified by MSKCC (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) prognostic risk category (low or intermediate) and country and randomized to NEXAVAR 400 mg twice daily (N=384) or to placebo (N=385).

Table 8 summarizes the demographic and disease characteristics of the study population analyzed. Baseline demographics and disease characteristics were well balanced for both treatment groups. The median time from initial diagnosis of RCC to randomization was 1.6 and 1.9 years for the NEXAVAR and placebo-treated groups, respectively.

Table 8: Demographic and Disease Characteristics – RCC Study 1































Not reported 1





Age group

< 65 years





≥ 65 years





ECOG performance status at baseline
















Not reported





MSKCC prognostic risk category











Prior IL-2 and/or interferon











1 Race was not collected from the 186 patients enrolled in France due to local regulations. In 8 other patients, race was not available at the time of analysis.

Progression-free survival, defined as the time from randomization to progression or death from any cause, whichever occurred earlier, was evaluated by blinded independent radiological review using RECIST criteria.

Figure 2 depicts Kaplan-Meier curves for PFS. The PFS analysis was based on a two-sided Log-Rank test stratified by MSKCC prognostic risk category and country.

Figure 2: Kaplan-Meier Curves for Progression-free Survival – RCC Study 1

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