U.S. flag An official website of the United States government
  1. Home
  2. Drugs
  3. News & Events for Human Drugs
  4. FDA approves first treatment for Friedreich’s ataxia
  1. News & Events for Human Drugs

FDA approves first treatment for Friedreich’s ataxia


FDA has approved Skyclarys (omaveloxolone) as the first treatment for Friedreich’s ataxia, a rare, inherited, degenerative disease that damages the nervous system, characterized by impaired coordination and walking.

Patients take Skyclarys capsules orally without food once a day at a recommended dosage of 150 mg.

Disease or Condition

Friedreich’s ataxia causes progressive damage to the spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and the brain, resulting in uncoordinated muscle movement, poor balance, difficulty walking, changes in speech and swallowing, and a shortened lifespan. The condition can also cause heart disease. This disease tends to develop in children and teenagers and gradually worsens over time.

Although rare, Friedreich’s ataxia is the most common form of hereditary ataxia in the United States, affecting about one in every 50,000 people.


The efficacy and safety of Skyclarys to treat Friedreich’s ataxia was evaluated in a 48-week randomized, placebo-controlled, and double-blind study [Study 1 (NCT02255435)] and an open-label extension.

Study 1 enrolled 103 individuals with Friedreich’s ataxia who received placebo (52 individuals) or Skyclarys 150 mg (51 individuals) for 48 weeks. Of the research participants, 53% were male, 97% were white, and the mean age was 24 years at study entry. Nine (18%) patients were younger than age 18.

The primary objective was to evaluate the change in the modified Friedreich’s Ataxia Rating Scale (mFARS) score compared to placebo at week 48. The mFARS is a clinical assessment that measures disease progression, namely swallowing and speech (bulbar), upper limb coordination, lower limb coordination, and upright stability. Individuals receiving Skyclarys performed better on the mFARS than people receiving placebo.

In a post hoc analysis, individuals who continued treatment with Skyclarys in an open-label extension for up to three years performed better on the mFARS compared to a matched set of untreated patients from a natural history study.

Safety Information

The most common side effects of Skyclarys were an increase in alanine transaminase and an increase of aspartate aminotransferase, which can be signs of liver damage, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhea and musculoskeletal pain.

See full prescribing information for additional information on risks associated with Skyclarys.


Skyclarys received orphan drug, fast track, priority review and rare pediatric disease designations.


Back to Top