Cryptococcal Meningitis Included in FDA Tropical Disease Priority Review Voucher Program
SAN DIEGO – February 11, 2019 – Amplyx Pharmaceuticals, a company developing first-in-class products for life-threatening infections, announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Orphan Product Development has granted orphan drug designation to APX001, the company’s lead drug candidate, for treatment of cryptococcosis.
Orphan drug designation qualifies APX001 for seven years of market exclusivity in the U.S. upon FDA approval of a new drug application (NDA) for the orphan designated indications. APX001 had previously received orphan drug designation for the treatment of invasive candidiasis, invasive aspergillosis, coccidioidomycosis, and rare mold infections caused by Scedosporium spp., Fusarium spp., and Mucorales fungi (including Mucor spp., and Rhizopus spp.). In addition to orphan designations, FDA had previously granted Qualified Infectious Disease Product (QIDP) designation for APX001 for treatment of cryptococcosis, invasive candidiasis, invasive aspergillosis, and coccidioidomycosis. QIDP provides significant development incentives including eligibility for Fast Track designation, priority review and when combined with orphan drug designation, a total of twelve years of marketing exclusivity.
“Orphan and QIDP designations highlight the potential for APX001 to address unmet needs of patients with rare, life-threatening infections,” said Ciara Kennedy, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Amplyx. “And with the FDA’s recent addition of cryptococcal meningitis to its list of neglected tropical diseases, Amplyx has the potential to obtain a valuable Tropical Disease Priority Review Voucher from the FDA, creating additional value for Amplyx and its stakeholders.”
Cryptococcosis is an infectious disease of the lungs or central nervous system (the brain or spinal cord) caused by the fungus Cryptococcus (either Cryptococcus neoformans or Cryptococcus gattii), which is typically found in the environment and inhaled. Brain infections due to the fungus Cryptococcus are called cryptococcal meningitis. Infection is most often seen in people with a weakened immune system, including those who are infected with HIV/AIDS, take high doses of corticosteroid medicines, have had an organ transplant, are receiving immune suppressing therapies for cancer or other diseases, or have Hodgkin’s disease.
“While antiretroviral therapy has successfully extended the lifespan of HIV patients, cryptococcal meningitis remains a leading cause of death in HIV patients, particularly in low and middle-income countries,” said Michael Hodges, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Amplyx. “The standard therapy of intravenous amphotericin B plus flucytosine requires inpatient hospitalization and has been known to cause significant side effects including anemia and kidney toxicity. APX001, Amplyx’s first-in-class antifungal agent, in combination with fluconazole, has the potential to be a transformational life-saving, once daily, all oral treatment for cryptococcal meningitis.”
About Orphan Drug Designation
Under the FDA’s Orphan Drug Designation program, orphan drug designation is granted by the FDA to novel drugs or biologics that treat rare diseases or conditions affecting fewer than 200,000 patients in the U.S. The designation allows the drug developer to be eligible for a seven-year period of U.S. marketing exclusivity upon approval of the drug, as well as tax credits for clinical research costs, the ability to apply for annual grant funding, clinical trial design assistance, and the waiver of Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) filing fees.
About the Tropical Disease Priority Review Voucher (PRV) Program
Developed by the U.S. FDA in 2007 under the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act (“FDAAA”), a PRV is an incentive for companies to invest in new drugs and vaccines to prevent or treat certain neglected tropical diseases affecting millions of people throughout the world. A PRV is a transferrable asset that entitles the holder to a priority review for a drug of its choice.
APX001A, the active moiety of APX001, inhibits the highly conserved fungal enzyme Gwt1, compromising growth of major fungal pathogens. In multiple nonclinical studies, APX001 has shown broad-spectrum activity against common species of Candida spp. and Aspergillus spp., including multi-drug resistant strains including Candida auris and rare, hard-to-treat molds including Fusarium spp., Scedosporium spp., and fungi from the Mucorales order. APX001 is currently in a Phase 2 clinical trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of both IV and oral APX001 for the first-line treatment of patients with fungal infections.
Invasive infections due to Aspergillus, Fusarium, Scedosporium and fungi from the Mucorales order are especially difficult to treat resulting in high mortality rates (50-80%), even when patients receive standard of care treatment. The frequency of fungi resistant to both the azole and echinocandin classes of drugs is increasing. Thus, there remains a significant unmet medical need for a new broad-spectrum antifungal to treat serious, invasive fungal infections and reduce the existing high morbidity and mortality.
About Amplyx Pharmaceuticals
Amplyx Pharmaceuticals is developing first-in-class products for life-threatening conditions, with a near-term focus on deadly fungal pathogens in vulnerable patients. Amplyx’s drug discovery and development efforts have been supported by significant venture investment and grants from the National Institutes of Health. For more information, please visit www.amplyx.com.
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Heidi Chokeir, Ph.D.
Amplyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc.