Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (Nasdaq: VRTX) today announced that the European Union Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) issued a positive opinion recommending extension of the Marketing Authorization for ORKAMBI® (lumacafator/ivacaftor) to children with cystic fibrosis (CF) ages 6 through 11 who have two copies of the F508del mutation. There are approximately 3,400 patients ages 6 through 11 eligible for this medicine in Europe.
“Cystic fibrosis is a systemic, multi-organ, progressive disease present from birth,” said David Gillen, M.D., Head of International Medical Affairs at Vertex. “This recommendation brings us closer to being able to help more people with CF who currently do not have a medicine to treat the underlying cause of their disease.”
Positive CHMP opinions are recommendations for approval to the European Commission, which has the authority to approve medicines for the European Union. The European Commission generally follows the recommendations of the CHMP and typically extends the Marketing Authorization within three months. In some countries, we have in place existing agreements that will make ORKAMBI available to this age group immediately following Marketing Authorization. In other countries, Vertex will begin the country-by-country reimbursement process following Marketing Authorization.
About Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is a rare, life-shortening genetic disease affecting approximately 75,000 people in North America, Europe and Australia.
CF is caused by a defective or missing CFTR protein resulting from mutations in the CFTR gene. Children must inherit two defective CFTR genes — one from each parent — to have CF. There are approximately 2,000 known mutations in the CFTR gene. Some of these mutations, which can be determined by a genetic test, or genotyping test, lead to CF by creating non-working or too few CFTR protein at the cell surface. The defective function or absence of CFTR protein results in poor flow of salt and water into and out of the cell in a number of organs. In the lungs, this leads to the buildup of abnormally thick, sticky mucus that can cause chronic lung infections and progressive lung damage in many patients that eventually leads to death. The median age of death is in the mid-to-late 20s.
About ORKAMBI® (lumacaftor/ivacaftor)
In people with two copies of the F508del mutation, the CFTR protein is not processed and trafficked normally within the cell, resulting in little-to-no CFTR protein at the cell surface. Patients with two copies of the F508del mutation are easily identified by a simple genetic test.
ORKAMBI is a combination of lumacaftor, which is designed to increase the amount of mature protein at the cell surface by targeting the processing and trafficking defect of the F508del-CFTR protein, and ivacaftor, which is designed to enhance the function of the CFTR protein once it reaches the cell surface. It is an oral pill taken every 12 hours - once in the morning and once in the evening.
U.S. INDICATION AND IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION FOR ORKAMBI® (lumacaftor/ivacaftor)
ORKAMBI is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of cystic fibrosis (CF) in patients age 6 years and older who have two copies of the F508del mutation (F508del/F508del) in their CFTR gene. ORKAMBI should only be used in these patients. It is not known if ORKAMBI is safe and effective in children under 6 years of age.
Patients should not take ORKAMBI if they are taking certain medicines or herbal supplements, such as: the antibiotics rifampin or rifabutin; the seizure medicines phenobarbital, carbamazepine, or phenytoin; the sedatives/anti-anxiety medicines triazolam or midazolam; the immunosuppressant medicines everolimus, sirolimus, or tacrolimus; or St. John's wort.
Before taking ORKAMBI, patients should tell their doctor if they: have or have had liver problems; have kidney problems; have had an organ transplant; are using birth control (hormonal contraceptives, including oral, injectable, transdermal or implantable forms). Hormonal contraceptives should not be used as a method of birth control when taking ORKAMBI. Patients should tell their doctor if they are pregnant or plan to become pregnant (it is unknown if ORKAMBI will harm the unborn baby) or if they are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed (it is unknown if ORKAMBI passes into breast milk).
ORKAMBI may affect the way other medicines work and other medicines may affect how ORKAMBI works. Therefore, the dose of ORKAMBI or other medicines may need to be adjusted when taken together. Patients should especially tell their doctor if they take: antifungal medicines such as ketoconazole, itraconazole, posaconazole, or voriconazole; or antibiotics such as telithromycin, clarithromycin, or erythromycin.
When taking ORKAMBI, patients should tell their doctor if they stop ORKAMBI for more than 1 week as the doctor may need to change the dose of ORKAMBI or other medicines the patient is taking. It is unknown if ORKAMBI causes dizziness. Patients should not drive a car, use machinery, or do anything requiring alertness until the patient knows how ORKAMBI affects them.
ORKAMBI can cause serious side effects including:
High liver enzymes in the blood, which can be a sign of liver injury, have been reported in patients receiving ORKAMBI. The patient's doctor will do blood tests to check their liver before they start ORKAMBI, every three months during the first year of taking ORKAMBI, and annually thereafter. The patient should call the doctor right away if they have any of the following symptoms of liver problems: pain or discomfort in the upper right stomach (abdominal) area; yellowing of the skin or the white part of the eyes; loss of appetite; nausea or vomiting; dark, amber-colored urine; or confusion.
Respiratory events such as shortness of breath or chest tightness were observed in patients when starting ORKAMBI. If a patient has poor lung function, their doctor may monitor them more closely when starting ORKAMBI.
An increase in blood pressure has been seen in some patients treated with ORKAMBI. The patient's doctor should monitor their blood pressure during treatment with ORKAMBI.
Abnormality of the eye lens (cataract) has been noted in some children and adolescents receiving ORKAMBI and ivacaftor, a component of ORKAMBI. For children and adolescents, the patient's doctor should perform eye examinations prior to and during treatment with ORKAMBI to look for cataracts.
The most common side effects of ORKAMBI include: shortness of breath and/or chest tightness; upper respiratory tract infection (common cold), including sore throat, stuffy or runny nose; gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, diarrhea, or gas; rash; fatigue; flu or flu-like symptoms; increase in muscle enzyme levels; and irregular, missed, or abnormal menstrual periods and heavier bleeding.
Please click here to see the full U.S. Prescribing Information for ORKAMBI.
Vertex is a global biotechnology company that invests in scientific innovation to create transformative medicines for people with serious and life-threatening diseases. In addition to clinical development programs in CF, Vertex has more than a dozen ongoing research programs focused on the underlying mechanisms of other serious diseases.
Founded in 1989 in Cambridge, Mass., Vertex's headquarters is now located in Boston's Innovation District. Today, the company has research and development sites and commercial offices in the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia. Vertex is consistently recognized as one of the industry's top places to work, including being named to Science magazine's Top Employers in the life sciences ranking for eight years in a row. For additional information and the latest updates from the company, please visit www.vrtx.com.
Collaborative History with Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics, Inc. (CFFT)
Vertex initiated its CF research program in 2000 as part of a collaboration with CFFT, the nonprofit drug discovery and development affiliate of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. KALYDECO® (ivacaftor), ORKAMBI®(lumacaftor/ivacaftor), tezacaftor, VX-440, VX-152 and VX-659 were discovered by Vertex as part of this collaboration.
Special Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including, without limitation, Dr. Gillen’s statement in the second paragraph of this press release and statements regarding the European Commission generally following the recommendations of the CHMP and typically issuing marketing approval within three months. While Vertex believes the forward-looking statements contained in this press release are accurate, there are a number of factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements. Those risks and uncertainties include, among other things, that Vertex could experience unforeseen delays in obtaining marketing approval from the European Commission and the other risks listed under Risk Factors in Vertex's annual report and quarterly reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and available through the company's website at www.vrtx.com. Vertex disclaims any obligation to update the information contained in this press release as new information becomes available.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated
Michael Partridge, 617-341-6108
Eric Rojas, 617-961-7205
Zach Barber, 617-341-6470
Megan Goulart, + 1-617-341-6992
Europe & Australia:
Rebecca Hunt, +44 7718 962 690