Novartis drug Signifor® recommended by CHMP for EU approval

NovartisThe Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) adopted a positive opinion for Signifor® (SOM230, pasireotide) for the treatment of Cushing's disease. There are currently no approved medicines in the European Union (EU) targeting Cushing's disease, a debilitating endocrine disorder caused by excess cortisol in the body due to the presence of a non-cancerous pituitary tumor[1],[2].

"We are pleased with the decision by the CHMP in support of pasireotide in the European Union," said Hervé Hoppenot, President, Novartis Oncology. "We are now one step closer to being able to offer patients in Europe the first approved medical treatment for Cushing's disease."

In the EU, the European Commission generally follows the recommendations of the CHMP and delivers its final decision within three months of the CHMP recommendation. The decision will be applicable to all 27 EU member states plus Iceland and Norway. Pasireotide has orphan drug designation for Cushing's disease, a condition which affects no more than five in 10,000 people in the EU, the threshold for orphan designation[6].

The CHMP positive opinion is based on data from the Phase III PASPORT-CUSHINGS (PASireotide clinical trial PORTfolio - CUSHING'S disease) trial, the largest randomized study to evaluate a medical therapy in patients with Cushing's disease[4].

In the study, patients were randomized to receive pasireotide subcutaneous (sc) injection in doses of 900µg and 600µg twice daily. For the 900µg group, the study met the primary endpoint of normalizing urinary-free cortisol (UFC) levels, the key measure of biochemical control of the disease[4].

Urinary-free cortisol levels were normalized in 26.3% and 14.6% of patients randomized to receive pasireotide 900µg and 600µg twice daily, respectively, at six months of treatment. After 12 months of treatment, results confirmed the durability of the effect. On average, as UFC levels were reduced, clinical manifestations of Cushing's disease improved including reduction of blood pressure, total cholesterol, weight and body mass index[4].

The most frequently reported adverse events (AE) (>10%) by investigators for pasireotide were diarrhea, nausea, hyperglycemia, cholelithiasis, abdominal pain, diabetes mellitus, injection site reactions, fatigue and increased glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), with most events being Grade 1-2. The tolerability profile of pasireotide was similar to that of other somatostatin analogs with the exception of the greater degree of hyperglycemia[4].

About Cushing's disease
Cushing's syndrome is an endocrine disorder caused by excessive cortisol, a vital hormone that regulates metabolism, maintains cardiovascular function and helps the body respond to stress[2]. Cushing's disease is a form of Cushing's syndrome, in which excess cortisol production is triggered by an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting pituitary adenoma[1]. The first-line and most common treatment approach for Cushing's disease is surgical removal of the tumor[2].

Cushing's disease is a rare but serious disease that affects approximately one to two patients per million per year[7]. It most commonly affects women from 20 to 50 years old[2],[5]. Cushing's disease may present with weight gain, central obesity, moon face, severe fatigue and weakness, striae (purple stretch marks), buffalo hump, depression and anxiety[1],[5].

About pasireotide
Pasireotide, an investigational multireceptor targeting somatostatin analog (SSA), binds with high affinity to four of the five somatostatin receptor subtypes (sst 1, 2, 3 and 5)[1].

For the treatment of Cushing's disease, pasireotide has been studied as a twice-daily subcutaneous (sc) injection and is currently being evaluated as a long-acting release (LAR), once-monthly intramuscular (IM) injection as part of a global Phase III program. Pasireotide LAR is also being studied in three large-scale, global Phase III clinical trial programs: two in patients with acromegaly and one in patients with metastatic carcinoid tumors whose disease-related symptoms are inadequately controlled by somatostatin analogs.

About Novartis
Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, eye care, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines and diagnostic tools, over-the-counter and animal health products. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2010, the Group's continuing operations achieved net sales of USD 50.6 billion, while approximately USD 9.1 billion (USD 8.1 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges) was invested in R&D throughout the Group. Novartis Group companies employ approximately 121,000 full-time-equivalent associates and operate in more than 140 countries around the world.

1. Pedroncelli A.M. Medical Treatment of Cushing's Disease: Somatostatin Analogues and Pasireotide. Neuroendocrinology. 2010;92 (suppl 1): 120-124.
2. National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service. National Institutes of Health. Cushing's Syndrome. Available at Accessed December 2011.
3. Boscaro M., et al. Treatment of Pituitary-Dependent Cushing's Disease with the Multireceptor Ligand Somatostatin Analog Pasireotide (SOM230): A Multicenter, Phase II Trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009; 94(1):115-122.
4. Colao, A. Pasireotide (SOM230) provides clinical benefit in patients with Cushing's disease: results from a large, 12-month, randomized-dose, double-blind, Phase III study. Abstract# OC1.7. European Neuroendocrine Association (ENEA) 14th Congress.
5. Newell-Price J, et al., The Diagnosis and Differential Diagnosis of Cushing's Syndrome and Pseudo-Cushing's States. Endocrine Reviews. 19(5): 647-672. Available at Published 1998. Accessed December 2011.
6. European Medicines Agency. Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products. Public Summary of Positive Opinion for Orphan Designation of Pasireotide for the treatment of Cushing's Disease. Available at Accessed December 2011.
7. Lindholm S., et al. Incidence and Late Prognosis of Cushing's Syndrome: A Population-Based Study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001; 86 (1): 117-123.