Practitioner Updates

Pharmacist’s Corner: First FDA-approved Monoclonal Antibody for Animals: Solensia

Traditional therapy for osteoarthritis (OA) pain management in felines consists of weight loss, exercise, acupuncture, medical-grade massage, or pharmacological measures, including NSAIDs, gabapentin, or tramadol.

A multimodal approach is recommended to improve quality of life, but some medications can pose a serious risk, such as NSAIDs in animals with renal disease.

Researchers at Zoetis have developed a once-a-month drug treatment for OA-induced pain management that is specialized, safe and effective. This medication is a monoclonal antibody that targets a feline-specific nerve growth factor.

What is a monoclonal antibody?

It is a specific, exogenous antibody made to bind to certain targets and prevent bacteria, viruses, or other substances from binding to their receptors. With Solensia, this mechanism inhibits the body’s inflammatory response, which leads to a decrease in pain signaling.

Why is Solensia (frunevetmab) unique?

One of the targets for inflammation in felines is the nerve-growth factor. Peripheral, pro-nociceptive factors are increased in response to injury, disease states, and noxious stimuli. When they are stimulated, they increase mast cell release of inflammatory factors like histamine, cytokines, and bradykinin, which magnifies the inflammatory response thus elevating pain levels.

In a multisite, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, three sets of felines, with a client-specific outcome measure (CSOM) score for pain of 7 or greater, received frunevetmab and the following was observed:

  • Improvement in mobility observed by the owners based on a before and after weekly activity comparison
  • Improvement in orthopedic examination scores, conducted by the veterinarian
  • CSOM pain scores decreased by at least 2 points in the treatment group compared to the control

How is Solensia (frunevetmab) administered?

  • Dose is 1.0 to 2.8mg/kg every 28 days via subcutaenous injection
  • Potential adverse effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and itchy skin
  • Patients may experience scabs, small abrasions, or spots of alopecia at the injection site (s)

Alexandria Arnett is a pharmacy student at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Class of 2025


1. Gruen ME, Myers JAE, Lascelles BDX. Efficacy and Safety of an Anti-nerve Growth Factor Antibody (Frunevetmab) for the Treatment of Degenerative Joint Disease-Associated Chronic Pain in Cats: A Multisite Pilot Field Study. Front Vet Sci. 2021;8:610028. Published 2021 May 28. doi:10.3389/fvets.2021.610028

2. Buss NA, Henderson SJ, McFarlane M, Shenton JM, de Haan L. Monoclonal antibody therapeutics: history and future. Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2012;12(5):615-622. doi: 10.1016/j. coph.2012.08.001

3. FDA approves novel treatment to control pain in cats with osteoarthritis, first monoclonal antibody drug for use in any animal species. news-events/press-announcements/fdaapproves-novel-treatment-control-pain[1]cats-osteoarthritis-first-monoclonalantibody-drug-use-any Published Jan. 13, 2022; accessed Sept. 24, 2022.