CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug. 1, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aegerion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq:AEGR), a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development and commercialization of novel, life-altering therapies for patients with debilitating, often fatal, rare diseases, announced today that the European Commission has approved LOJUXTA™ (lomitapide) hard capsules as an adjunct to a low-fat diet and other lipid-lowering medicinal products with or without low density lipoprotein (LDL) apheresis in adult patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HoFH). "The approval of LOJUXTA marks an important day for patients in Europe with HoFH, and is a major step for Aegerion in our goal to bring therapy to patients globally," said Marc D. Beer, Chief Executive Officer of Aegerion. "We are now keenly focused on launch, and are actively working with national health authorities in an effort to make LOJUXTA available as swiftly as possible." "HoFH is a rare and serious medical condition," said Prof. Alberico L. Catapano, President of the European Atherosclerosis Society. "Despite the treatments we have available today, patients continue to experience severe elevations in LDL-C. With novel therapies such as LOJUXTA it is possible to achieve target levels in LDL-C for patients with HoFH. This marks a change in our ability in daily practice to truly impact the lives of these patients." LOJUXTA is indicated as an adjunct to a low-fat diet and other lipid-lowering medicinal products with or without low density lipoprotein (LDL) apheresis in adult patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HoFH). The Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC) describes that genetic confirmation of HoFH should be obtained whenever possible, and that other forms of primary hyperlipoproteinemia and secondary causes of hypercholesterolemia (e.g., nephrotic syndrome, hypothyroidism) must be excluded. The European Commission's decision is based on a favorable benefit-risk assessment from Aegerion's Phase 3 study which evaluated the safety and efficacy of the medicine to reduce LDL-C levels in 29 adult patients with HoFH.
When added to the existing lipid-lowering therapy of the HoFH patients in the study, LOJUXTA significantly reduced LDL-C from a baseline average of 336 mg/dL to 190 mg/dL (40% reduction) at Week 26 in the intent-to-treat population. LDL-C was reduced by an average of 50% in the 23 patients who completed the study through Week 26. After Week 26, during the safety phase of the study, adjustments to concomitant lipid-lowering treatments, including apheresis, were allowed. Average reductions in LDL-C were sustained during chronic therapy and no additional dropouts were seen.The most common adverse reactions in the Phase III trial were gastrointestinal, reported by 27 (93%) of 29 patients. Diarrhea occurred in 79% of patients, nausea in 65%, dyspepsia in 38%, and vomiting in 34%. Other reactions reported by at least 20% of patients include abdominal pain, abdominal discomfort, abdominal distension, constipation, and flatulence. Elevations in liver enzymes and hepatic (liver) fat were also observed. Ten of the 29 patients in the study had at least one elevation in liver enzymes greater than or equal to three times the upper limit of normal, including four patients who experienced liver enzymes greater than or equal to five times the upper limit of normal. Liver enzyme elevations were managed through dose reduction or temporary discontinuation of dose. There were no clinically meaningful elevations of total bilirubin, international normalized ratio (INR) or alkaline phosphatase, which are other markers of potential harmful effects on the liver. Hepatic fat increased from a baseline of one percent to a median absolute increase of six percent at 26 and 78 weeks. Aegerion has adopted a risk management plan to help educate physicians on the safety information for LOJUXTA and appropriate precautions to be followed by healthcare professionals and patients. In addition, as part of Aegerion's post-marketing commitment to both the FDA and the EMA, the Company will conduct an observational cohort study to generate more data on the long-term safety profile of lomitapide, the patterns of use and compliance and the long-term effectiveness of controlling LDL-C levels.
HoFH is a serious, rare genetic disease that impairs the function of the receptor responsible for removing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C or "bad" cholesterol) from the body. A loss of LDL receptor function results in extreme elevation of blood cholesterol levels. HoFH patients often develop premature and progressive atherosclerosis, a narrowing or blocking of the arteries.About Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Aegerion Pharmaceuticals is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development and commercialization of innovative, life-altering therapies for patients with debilitating, often fatal, rare diseases. For more information about the company, please visit www.aegerion.com. Forward-Looking Statements This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements regarding the potential for launch of LOJUXTA in the EU. These forward-looking statements are neither promises nor guarantees of future performance, and are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in these forward-looking statements. In particular, the risks and uncertainties include, among other factors; the risk that we may not be able to obtain pricing and reimbursement approval in the various countries of the EU at acceptable levels or at all, or certain countries may impose price caps, rebates, or other restrictions or requirements with respect to reimbursement that limit the commercial potential of LOJUXTA; and the risk that LOJUXTA may not gain market acceptance in the EU. For additional disclosure regarding these and other risks we face, see the disclosure contained in our public filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (available on the SEC's website at http://www.sec.gov), including the "Risk Factors" section of our most recent Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q. We undertake no obligation to update or revise the information contained in this press release, whether as a result of new information, future events or circumstances or otherwise.
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