A new hope for pain control in cats became available when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Solensia (frunevetmab) as an injection for osteoarthritic pain in cats. This groundbreaking drug is the first medication approved for the control of arthritic pain in cats. It is also the first monoclonal antibody (mAB) that the FDA has approved for any animal species.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is common in cats, with over 40% of all cats showing some joint degeneration. While cats as young as 2 years old might be a bit arthritic, over 90% of all cats ages 12 years age show radiographic evidence of arthritic changes.
In cases of OA, the joint fluid and cartilage cushion that prevent bone-on-bone friction in healthy joints is reduced or damaged. That means pain, but detecting that pain can require careful observation, especially in cats. Many cats simply adjust their lifestyle, such as no longer leaping up to their usual window seat or playing with a favorite toy.
Advancement Through Research
Cats are often shortchanged when it comes to pain medications due to their unique liver metabolism of many drugs. 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 in many species, including cats. When frunevetmab binds to NGF, it prevents the pain signal from reaching the brain.
Two clinical trials involving over 400 cats with OA-assessed responses to Solensia using behavioral surveys completed by their owners and examinations by veterinarians to characterize OA-related pain. The results showed that Solensia was safe and effective at decreasing OA-related pain in these cats. Vomiting was the most common side effect, with 13% of the cats in the trials showing mild vomiting post injection.
Keep Your Cat Comfortable
The normal dosing protocol is one subcutaneous injection/month, which is going to be easier for many cat owners who dread having to pill their cats.
Certainly, owners should continue with other supportive care options, but adding Solensia can mean a better quality of life for their arthritic feline companions.