BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (Nasdaq and SWX: BMRN) announced today that the first patient has initiated treatment in the expanded access program for Kuvan(TM) (sapropterin dihydrochloride), an investigational oral small molecule for the treatment of phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare genetic metabolic disorder. BioMarin submitted a new drug application (NDA) for Kuvan to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May, and, if granted priority review status, Kuvan could receive approval by the end of 2007. Kuvan is being developed in partnership with Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
"Since elevated Phe levels are toxic to the brain, it is crucial that we have a good tool to lower Phe levels in PKU patients," said lead Kuvan investigator, Dr. Barbara Burton, Director of the PKU Program at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago and Professor of Pediatrics, Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. "In clinical trials, Kuvan has been shown to reduce blood Phe levels and increase Phe tolerance in some PKU patients with mild, moderate and severe disease. The drug was well-tolerated across a broad spectrum of PKU patients. We look forward to the availability of Kuvan as a treatment option for PKU patients, pending FDA approval, and we are pleased to be able to provide the drug to some patients through the expanded access program in the interim."
Under an expanded access program, the FDA allows early access to investigational drugs that are being developed to treat serious diseases for which there is no satisfactory alternative therapy. BioMarin will provide Kuvan at no charge to participating patients throughout the duration of the program, which has been allowed by the FDA for patients over eight years of age with a confirmed diagnosis of PKU. The starting dose is 20 mg/kg/day, with dose adjustments allowed at the discretion of prescribing physicians between 5 mg/kg/day and 20 mg/kg/day. At least 500 PKU patients in the U.S. will be guaranteed enrollment in the program. To date, more than 70 medical facilities have submitted applications for inclusion in the expanded access program. Patients and parents of PKU patients who are interested in this program should speak with their physician or call 1-877-811-7327.
Kuvan is an investigational oral small molecule therapeutic for the treatment of PKU. The active ingredient in Kuvan, sapropterin dihydrochloride, is the synthetic form of 6R-BH4 (tetrahydrobiopterin), a naturally occurring enzyme cofactor that works in conjunction with phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) to metabolize Phe. Clinical data suggest that treatment with Kuvan results in significant reductions in blood Phe levels in BH4-responsive patients. It also may enable some patients to minimize or eliminate highly-restrictive dietary constraints by increasing Phe tolerance levels. BioMarin and Merck Serono estimate that Kuvan could be a potential treatment option for approximately 30 percent to 50 percent of the estimated 50,000 identified PKU patients in the developed world.
Kuvan has received orphan drug designation from both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA). If approved, it will receive seven years of market exclusivity in the United States and 10 years in the European Union for this indication. Additionally, the FDA has granted Kuvan Fast Track designation, which is designed to facilitate the development of new drugs that are intended to treat serious or life-threatening conditions and that demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs.
PKU, a genetic disorder affecting approximately 50,000 diagnosed patients in the developed world, is caused by a deficiency of the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH). PAH is required for the metabolism of phenylalanine (Phe), an essential amino acid found in most protein-containing foods. If the active enzyme is not present in sufficient quantities, Phe accumulates to abnormally high levels in the blood and becomes toxic to the brain, resulting in a variety of complications including severe mental retardation and brain damage, mental illness, seizures, tremors, and limited cognitive ability. As a result of newborn screening efforts implemented in the 1960s and early 1970s, virtually all PKU patients under the age of 40 in developed countries have been diagnosed at birth. Currently, PKU can only be managed by a Phe- restricted diet, which is supplemented by nutritional replacement products, like formulas and specially-manufactured foods; however, the strict diet is difficult for most patients to adhere to the extent needed for achieving adequate control of blood Phe levels. To learn more about PKU, please visit www.PKU.com. Information on this website is not incorporated by reference into this press release.
BioMarin develops and commercializes innovative biopharmaceuticals for serious diseases and medical conditions. The company's product portfolio comprises two approved products and multiple clinical and preclinical product candidates. Approved products include Naglazyme(R) (galsulfase) for mucopolysaccharidosis VI (MPS VI), a product wholly developed and commercialized by BioMarin, and Aldurazyme(R) (laronidase) for mucopolysaccharidosis I (MPS I), a product which BioMarin developed through a 50/50 joint venture with Genzyme Corporation. Investigational product candidates include Kuvan(TM) (sapropterin dihydrochloride), a Phase 3 product candidate for the treatment of phenylketonuria (PKU), and 6R-BH4 for cardiovascular indications, which is currently in Phase 2 clinical development for the treatment of peripheral arterial disease and sickle cell disease. For additional information, please visit www.BMRN.com. Information on BioMarin's website is not incorporated by reference into this press release.
This press release contains forward-looking statements about the business prospects of BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc., including, without limitation, statements about: the development of its product candidate Kuvan; expectations regarding the Kuvan expanded access program; expectations regarding filings with regulatory agencies; and the development of 6R-BH4 for other indications. These forward-looking statements are predictions and involve risks and uncertainties such that actual results may differ materially from these statements. These risks and uncertainties include, among others: the results of ongoing clinical trials related to Kuvan; the content and timing of decisions by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the European Medicines Agency and other regulatory authorities concerning Kuvan; results and timing of current and planned clinical trials of 6R-BH4 for other indications; and those factors detailed in BioMarin's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including, without limitation, the factors contained under the caption "Risk Factors" in BioMarin's 2006 Annual Report on Form 10-K, as amended, and the factors contained in BioMarin's reports on Form 8-K. Stockholders are urged not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. BioMarin is under no obligation, and expressly disclaims any obligation to update or alter any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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