Exjade would be the first oral treatment approved specifically for patients with non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia (NTDT) syndromes
Clinical data show Exjade significantly decreases iron burden in NTDT patients compared to placebo, with similar overall adverse event rate
NTDT patients accumulate excess iron, increasing their risk of complications, including liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, blood clots and bone and vascular disease
Basel, November 16, 2012 - Novartis announced today that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) adopted a positive opinion for Exjade® (deferasirox) for the treatment of chronic iron overload requiring chelation therapy when deferoxamine therapy is contraindicated or inadequate in patients aged 10 years and older with non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia (NTDT) syndromes. Exjade would be the first oral treatment in the European Union (EU) specifically indicated for the treatment of iron overload in patients with these types of thalassemia.
Results from the first prospective placebo-controlled study of iron chelation in NTDT patients, THALASSA, showed a significant dose-dependent decrease in iron burden compared to placebo. In this pivotal study, Exjade was well tolerated, with an overall adverse event rate similar to the placebo arm.
Thalassemia refers to a diverse group of genetic disorders that affect red blood cell production, causing anemia. Unlike patients with other types of thalassemia, those with NTDT syndromes can live without regular transfusions, a significant cause of iron overload. However, even without transfusions, NTDT patients still accumulate excess iron through intestinal absorption, leading to debilitating health complications like liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, blood clots, bone disease, pulmonary hypertension and vascular and endocrine diseases,.
"Patients with NTDT have suffered the effects of iron overload without accurate diagnosis, clear treatment guidelines or specifically approved oral therapies," said Hervé Hoppenot, President, Novartis Oncology. "The CHMP recommendation is an important step toward improving the outcomes of patients with this type of thalassemia."
According to published studies, at least three quarters of a million people worldwide have NTDT syndromes, although as understanding of the disease increases, it is probable the number will grow,,. Because NTDT patients are not symptomatic at birth, when most thalassemias are diagnosed, they are often underdiagnosed and undertreated. Many complications associated with iron overload begin to appear as early as age 10 and become increasingly common as patients reach their 20s or 30s. Most NTDT patients are of South and Southeast Asian, Mediterranean or Middle Eastern origin, with immigration broadening the global prevalence,.
The European Commission generally follows the recommendations of the CHMP and usually delivers its final decision within three months of the CHMP recommendation. The decision will be applicable to all 27 EU member states plus Iceland and Norway. Exjade has been approved to treat chronic iron overload in patients with NTDT in Canada and several other countries; further regulatory submissions are ongoing.
Exjade is an oral iron chelation therapy indicated for the treatment of chronic iron overload due to frequent blood transfusions (>=7 ml/kg/month of packed red blood cells) in patients with beta thalassemia aged 6 years and older). It is also indicated for the treatment of chronic iron overload due to blood transfusions when deferoxamine therapy is contraindicated or inadequate in the following patient groups: patients with beta thalassemia major with iron overload due to frequent blood transfusions (>=7 ml/kg/month of packed red blood cells) aged 2 to 5 years; patients with beta thalassemia major with iron overload due to infrequent blood transfusions (<7 ml/kg/month of packed red blood cells) aged 2 years and older; and patients with other anemias aged 2 years and older.
It is approved in more than 100 countries including the US, Switzerland, Japan and countries comprising the EU. The approved indication may vary depending upon the individual country.
Exjade important safety information
Exjade is contraindicated in patients with an estimated creatinine clearance <60 mL/min, with hypersensitivity to the active substance or any of the excipients, or in combination with other iron chelator therapies. Exjade is not recommended in patients with severe hepatic impairment.
There have been postmarketing reports of acute renal failure, hepatic failure and cytopenias. Renal failure requiring temporary or permanent dialysis, renal tubulopathy and interstitial nephritis have been reported. Upper gastrointestinal ulceration and hemorrhage, sometimes fatal, have been reported. Caution should be used in elderly patients due to a higher frequency of adverse reactions. Exjade is not recommended in patients with a short life expectancy (e.g., high-risk myelodysplastic syndromes), especially when co-morbidities could increase the risk of adverse events.
Skin rashes, serious hypersensitivity reactions, decreased hearing and lens opacities have been reported. The most common adverse reactions are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, rash, non-progressive increases in serum creatinine, increased transaminases, abdominal distension, constipation, dyspepsia, proteinuria and headache.
Please visit www.exjade.com for more information.
The foregoing release contains forward-looking statements that can be identified by terminology such as "recommended," "would," "positive opinion," "recommendation," "will," "generally follows," or similar expressions, or by express or implied discussions regarding potential new indications or labeling for Exjade or regarding potential future revenues from Exjade. You should not place undue reliance on these statements. Such forward-looking statements reflect the current views of management regarding future events, and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results with Exjade to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. There can be no guarantee that Exjade will be approved for any additional indications or labeling in any market, or at any particular time. Nor can there be any guarantee that Exjade will achieve any particular levels of revenue in the future. In particular, management`s expectations regarding Exjade could be affected by, among other things, unexpected regulatory actions or delays or government regulation generally; unexpected clinical trial results, including unexpected new clinical data and unexpected additional analysis of existing clinical data; competition in general; government, industry and general public pricing pressures; unexpected manufacturing issues; the company`s ability to obtain or maintain patent or other proprietary intellectual property protection; the impact that the foregoing factors could have on the values attributed to the Novartis Group`s assets and liabilities as recorded in the Group`s consolidated balance sheet, and other risks and factors referred to in Novartis AG`s current Form 20-F on file with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those anticipated, believed, estimated or expected. Novartis is providing the information in this press release as of this date and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this press release as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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 Taher A, Porter J, Viprakasit V, et al. Deferasirox significantly reduces iron overload in non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia: 1-year results from a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Blood. 2012. Published online before print May 15, 2012.
 Musallam KM, Cappellini MD, Wood JC, et al. Iron overload in non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia: a clinical perspective. Blood Reviews. 2012:26S:S16-S19.
 Musallam KM, Cappellini MD, Wood JC, Motta I, Graziadei G, Tamin H, Taher AT. Elevated liver iron concentration is a marker of increased morbidity in patients with ß thalassemia intermedia. Haematologica. 2011 Nov;96(11):1605-12.
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 Vichinsky EP. Changing patterns of thalassemia worldwide. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2005;1054:18-24.
 Thalassaemia International Federation. The Thalassaemia International Federation`s (TIF) New Focus: Addressing the Management of Non-Transfusion-Dependent Thalassaemias (NTDT). Position Paper 5.2. March 20, 2012. Accessed at: http://www.thalassaemia.org.cy/pdf/NTDT_Position_Paper_Final.pdf.
 Taher AT. Age-related complications in treatment-naïve patients with thalassemia intermedia. Brit J Haematol. 2010;150:486-489.
 Taher A, Cappellini MD, Musallam KM. Recent advances and treatment challenges in patients with non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia. Blood. 2012;26S:S1-2.
 EMC. Summary of product characteristics: EXJADE 125 mg, 250mg, 500mg dispersible tablets. Last updated January 13, 2012. Accessed at: http://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/medicine/18805.
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