Merck (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada) (NYSE:MRK) and Cardiome Pharma Corp. (NASDAQ: CRME/ TSX: COM) today announced that the intravenous (IV) formulation of BRINAVESS™ (vernakalant) has been granted marketing approval in the European Union (EU), Iceland and Norway for the rapid conversion of recent onset atrial fibrillation (AF) to sinus rhythm in adults: for non-surgery patients with AF of seven days or less and for post-cardiac surgery patients with AF of three days or less.
BRINAVESS acts preferentially in the atria and is the first product in a new class of pharmacologic agents for cardioversion of AF to launch in the EU.
"This medicine offers physicians, patients and hospitals an important new therapy option to use for the rapid treatment of recent-onset AF, and we are pleased to add this to our strong portfolio of medicines for cardiovascular disease," said Patrick Magri, senior vice president, general manager, Cardiovascular Franchise, Merck. "We welcome this important milestone in our collaboration with Cardiome and we look forward to launching BRINAVESS in the EU beginning in the fourth quarter of 2010."
"European approval of BRINAVESS and Merck’s subsequent launch represent an exciting juncture in Cardiome’s evolution which will provide us with our first commercial product revenues,” said Doug Janzen, president and chief executive officer of Cardiome. “This success was made possible through the commitment and hard work of our employees and our partner Merck, the support of our shareholders, and the efforts of many dedicated medical professionals and patients who have taken part in the clinical program.”Information on the clinical program for BRINAVESS The approval of BRINAVESS is based on the results of three randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled studies (ACT I, ACT II, and ACT III) and an active comparator trial (AVRO). In ACT I and III, the efficacy of BRINAVESS at converting patients from AF to sinus rhythm for a minimum duration of one minute with 90 minutes of initiating therapy was evaluated in 390 haemodynamically stable adult patients with short duration AF (3 hours to 7 days) versus placebo. In ACT I, vernakalant cardioverted 51.0 percent of patients versus 4.0 percent of patients taking placebo (n=74 and 3, respectively; p<0.0001). In ACT III, vernakalant cardioverted 51.2 percent of patients versus 3.6 percent of patients taking placebo (n=44 and 3, respectively; p<0.0001). Conversion of AF to sinus rhythm occurred rapidly; in responders, the median time to conversion was 10 minutes from start of first infusion, based on pooled results from the ACT I and ACT III studies.