Opexa Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: OPXA), announced today that its lead drug candidate Tovaxin ® has been granted Fast Track designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of patients with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS). The FDA's Fast Track program is designed to facilitate the development and expedite the review of drugs intended to treat serious or life-threatening conditions and that demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs. According to the FDA, products with a Fast Track designation often receive priority review, which may offer a significant benefit in that, historically, the review time of a priority product is almost half that of a standard review. Additionally, as per the FDA, Fast Track priority review products are more likely to be approved on the first review cycle than those without the designation. Fast Track also entitles Opexa to more frequent interactions and dialogue with the FDA, further benefiting the development of Tovaxin. “Patients with progressive forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) are faced with no proven effective treatment options, so the Fast Track designation for Tovaxin is meaningful as it should enable Tovaxin to move more rapidly through the regulatory process, once it is proven to be efficacious,” commented Dr. Mark Freedman, M.D., FRCP, FAAN, Professor of Medicine at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Research Unit at the Ottawa Hospital. “Novel therapies such as Tovaxin offer hope for patients with a diagnosis of progressive MS.” "The receipt of Fast Track designation from the FDA represents an important step in our strategy to advance Tovaxin through the clinical and regulatory process," said Neil K. Warma, President & Chief Executive Officer of Opexa. "We look forward to working closely with the FDA throughout the process as we recognize the need to develop a new, efficacious therapy to serve Secondary Progressive MS patients and realize the benefit Tovaxin could offer. Based on this positive FDA milestone, our encouraging data in SPMS and supportive discussions with key opinion leaders, clinicians and patients, we have accelerated our plans for SPMS and are planning to initiate a Phase IIb clinical trial with Tovaxin in SPMS subject to securing the necessary resources, while remaining committed to further advancing Tovaxin in Relapsing Remitting MS at a later date. For Opexa, moving forward in progressive MS, an area which we believe represents a higher unmet medical need, could further differentiate the company and Tovaxin from other MS treatments.”
SPMS is characterized by a steady accrual of irreversible disability, despite, in some cases, reversible relapses, remissions, or clinical plateau. Only one product is currently approved in the United States specifically for the indication of SPMS. Opexa believes that a significant unmet medical need exists for the safe and effective treatment of SPMS.About Opexa Opexa Therapeutics, Inc. is dedicated to the development of patient-specific cellular therapies for the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). The Company’s leading therapy, Tovaxin ®, is a personalized cellular immunotherapy treatment that is in late stage clinical development for MS. Tovaxin is derived from T-cells isolated from peripheral blood, expanded ex vivo, and reintroduced into the patients via subcutaneous injections. This process triggers a potent immune response against specific subsets of autoreactive T-cells known to attack myelin and, thereby, reduces the risk of relapse over time. For more information visit the Opexa Therapeutics website at www.opexatherapeutics.com. Cautionary Statement Relating to Forward-Looking Information for the Purpose of "Safe Harbor" Provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 This press release contains forward-looking statements which are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. The words “expects,” “believes,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “may,” “could,” “intends,” “exploring,” “evaluating” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements in this release do not constitute guarantees of future performance. Investors are cautioned that statements in this press release which are not strictly historical statements, including, without limitation, statements regarding the development of the Company’s product candidate, Tovaxin, constitute forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated, including, without limitation, risks associated with: our capital position, the ability of the Company to enter into and benefit from a partnering arrangement for the Company's product candidate, Tovaxin, on reasonably satisfactory terms (if at all), our dependence (if partnered) on the resources and abilities of any partner for the further development of Tovaxin, our ability to compete with larger, better financed pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, new approaches to the treatment of our targeted diseases, our expectation of incurring continued losses, our uncertainty of developing a marketable product, our ability to raise additional capital to continue our treatment development programs and to undertake and complete any further clinical studies for Tovaxin, the success of our clinical trials, the efficacy of Tovaxin for any particular indication, such as for relapsing remitting MS or secondary progressive MS, our ability to develop and commercialize products, our ability to obtain required regulatory approvals, our compliance with all Food and Drug Administration regulations, our ability to obtain, maintain and protect intellectual property rights (including for Tovaxin), the risk of litigation regarding our intellectual property rights, our limited manufacturing capabilities, our dependence on third-party manufacturers, our ability to hire and retain skilled personnel, our volatile stock price, and other risks detailed in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date made. We assume no obligation or undertaking to update any forward-looking statements to reflect any changes in expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based. You should, however, review additional disclosures we make in our reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010.