First monoclonal antibody for animals approved by FDA to control pain in cats


Frunevetmab injection (Zoetis; Solensia) is the first treatment for pain associated with osteoarthritis in cats.

Officials with the FDA have approved frunevetmab injection (Zoetis; Solensia), the first treatment for the control of pain associated with osteoarthritis in cats and the first monoclonal antibody (mAb) new animal drug approved by the agency for use in any animal species.

Frunevetmab is a cat-specific mAb 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, according to the FDA.

“Treatment options for cats with osteoarthritis are very limited. 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 Steven M. Solomon, M.P.H., D.V.M., director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, in a prepared statement.

“Today’s approval marks the first treatment option to help provide relief to cats that are suffering from this condition and may significantly improve their quality of life. We also hope that today’s 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,” Solomon continued.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition of the joints in which the normal cartilage cushion in the joints breaks down. Eventually, 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. Osteoarthritis continues to get worse over time; however, frunevetmab injection can help manage the pain associated with the condition to improve the cat’s quality of life.

Frunevetmab injection is given through subcutaneous (under the skin) injection once a month and is dosed based on the weight of the animal. This therapy is available only by prescription from a licensed veterinarian.

Because of the difficulty in assessing chronic pain levels in cats, the FDA looked at whether the overall evidence supported the conclusion that frunevetmab injection was effective in controlling pain associated with osteoarthritis in cats. The effectiveness of the therapy was evaluated in 2 effectiveness studies using 3 clinical assessments that measured different aspects of pain associated with osteoarthritis in cats.

The 2 clinical trials were both masked, randomized, controlled field studies involving client-owned cats with clinical signs of osteoarthritis. The cats’ veterinarians assessed the cats based on orthopedic examinations before and after treatment. The owners of the cats provided baseline scores of their cats’ levels of impairment doing certain activities such as jumping onto furniture, using the litter box, or grooming, compared to the cats’ level of ability before they developed osteoarthritis. The owners then assessed their cats’ response after receiving treatment. Overall, the cats in the treatment group had better assessment scores than those in the control group.

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

According to the FDA, veterinarians should advise owners about the possible adverse events and effects before using the drug. The FDA also encourages cat owners to work with their veterinary team to report any adverse events or side effects potentially related to the use of any drug, including frunevetmab injection.


FDA Approves Novel Treatment to Control Pain in Cats with Osteoarthritis, First Monoclonal Antibody Drug for Use in Any Animal Species. News release. FDA. January 13, 2022. Accessed January 13, 2022.

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