Privately-owned biopharmaceutical company Harmony Biosciences LLC has received Breakthrough Therapy and Fast Track designations for its investigational product, pitolisant, from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The “Breakthrough Therapy” designation granted for pitolisant for the treatment of cataplexy in patients with narcolepsy is received when a potential new therapy is intended to treat a serious condition and preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over available therapies.
The “Fast Track” designation granted for the investigation of pitolisant for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness in patients with narcolepsy and the treatment of cataplexy in patients with narcolepsy is received when a potential new therapy is intended to treat a serious condition and data demonstrate the potential to address an unmet medical need. These designations signal FDA’s interest in the development program for pitolisant and provide opportunities for frequent interaction with the FDA, the ability to request a rolling new drug application (NDA) submission, as well as the potential for expedited review.
“We are very pleased that the FDA has granted pitolisant Breakthrough Therapy and Fast Track designations and believe it reflects the agency’s interest in this investigational product to potentially address an important unmet medical need for patients with narcolepsy,” says Harmony’s chief medical officer, Jeffrey Dayno, MD, in a release. “We look forward to working with the FDA throughout the submission and review of an NDA for this first-in-class molecule with a novel mechanism of action to treat adult patients with narcolepsy with or without cataplexy.”
Harmony’s CEO Bob Repella, says, “Receiving Breakthrough and Fast Track designations for pitolisant from FDA is welcome news as narcolepsy patients face many challenges. As stated in FDA’s Voice of the Patient report on narcolepsy, it is a debilitating disease that can severely affect a patient’s day-to-day functioning and have a devastating impact on their lives.”
Harmony also announced that the Pitolisant Expanded Access Clinical Evaluation (PEACE) program is open and patients are being enrolled. This is an open-label Expanded Access Program (EAP) intended to provide treatment with pitolisant to adult patients in the United States with excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy with or without cataplexy. It is open to all qualified healthcare professionals who wish to participate and interested patients who meet the inclusion/exclusion criteria of the protocol.
Pitolisant is a selective histamine H3-receptor antagonist/inverse agonist.
“The expanded access program for pitolisant provides physicians in the US with an opportunity to gain clinical experience with this first-in-class investigational product that works through the histaminergic system to improve wakefulness and inhibit attacks of cataplexy,” says Michael Thorpy, MD, professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, and principal investigator on the EAP for pitolisant. “I am pleased that Harmony Biosciences is making this program available while working on the NDA, as the data suggest that pitolisant could represent a new treatment option which is much needed for our patients with narcolepsy.”