FDA Approves Savella For Fibromyalgia Management
Forest Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: FRX) and Cypress Bioscience, Inc. (Nasdaq: CYPB) today announced that Savella (milnacipran HCl), a selective serotonin and norepinephrine dual reuptake inhibitor, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the management of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain and decreased physical function, afflicting as many as six million people in the United States.
The safety and efficacy of Savella was established in two US pivotal phase III clinical trials involving over 2,000 patients with fibromyalgia. The studies showed that Savella doses of 100 mg/day and 200 mg/day demonstrated statistically significant and clinically meaningful concurrent improvements in pain, patient global assessment, and physical function. The companies expect Savella to be available in pharmacies by March 2009.
"Fibromyalgia is a complicated chronic pain condition, so it is important that physicians and patients have access to treatments that have been shown to help manage the symptoms that define the experience of fibromyalgia," said Dr. Daniel Clauw, Professor of Anesthesiology and Medicine (Rheumatology) at the University of Michigan. "The introduction of Savella is important because it is the first drug approved to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia using a composite responder analysis.".
"Savella is the product of a unique clinical development program, one that considered a patient to be a responder to therapy only if they demonstrated concurrent clinically significant changes in multiple aspects of their fibromyalgia, including pain, patient global assessment and physical function. Savella is the only product approved for the management of fibromyalgia that used this complete responder analysis as its primary endpoint," said Jay D. Kranzler, MD, PhD, Chairman and CEO of Cypress Bioscience.
Howard Solomon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Forest said, "We and our partner Cypress Bioscience are very pleased to receive marketing approval for Savella, following a first-cycle review, from the FDA. Fibromyalgia is a chronic and often debilitating condition with a significant need for new therapies. Savella is a valuable new treatment for patients afflicted with fibromyalgia. Its effectiveness was evaluated based upon the multiple symptoms included in the responder analysis."
"This approval is crucial for Pierre Fabre Laboratories as milnacipran is one of the flagship products of our portfolio and represents another product of Pierre Fabre research registered in the United States," said Jean-Pierre Garnier, Chief Executive Officer of Pierre Fabre SA.
Although the exact mechanism by which Savella improves the symptoms of fibromyalgia is unknown, some researchers believe that abnormalities in certain brain neurotransmitters may be central to fibromyalgia. Savella blocks the reuptake of both norepinephrine and serotonin, with greater selectivity for the inhibition of norepinephrine reuptake in vitro. This may be the mechanism by which Savella acts to improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
The clinical development program for Savella was unique in its use of a composite responder analysis as the primary endpoint. This endpoint required individual patients to demonstrate concurrent improvement to multiple validated measures, including pain (visual analog scale), patient global assessment (patient global impression of change), and physical function (Short Form-36 Physical Component Summary).
The efficacy of Savella was established in two US pivotal Phase III clinical trials involving 2,084 treated patients (1,460 Savella; 624 placebo), which showed that Savella demonstrated clinically significant improvements compared to placebo in treating fibromyalgia. The first study was 6 months in duration and the second study was 3 months in duration.
In both studies, a greater proportion of patients in the Savella treatment arms (100 mg/day and 200 mg/day) as compared with placebo treatment, at 3 months, experienced at least a 30% reduction in pain from baseline and also rated themselves as "very much improved" or "much improved" based on the patient global assessment. In addition, a greater proportion of patients treated with Savella as compared with placebo treatment met the criteria for a treatment response as measured by concurrent improvements in pain, physical function, and patient global assessment. In both studies, some patients who rated themselves as globally "much" or "very much" improved experienced a decrease in pain as early as week 1 of treatment with a stable dose of Savella that persisted throughout these studies.
The clinical development program demonstrated that Savella was safe and generally well tolerated. The most frequently occurring adverse reaction was nausea. Other common adverse reactions reported in these clinical trials were constipation, hot flush, hyperhidrosis, vomiting, palpitations, heart rate increased, dry mouth and hypertension. The majority of adverse reactions reported were mild to moderate in nature.