Thursday, November 10, 2011

DuoCort Pharma's Orphan Drug Plenadren® Granted European Marketing Authorization for Adrenal Insufficiency

HELSINGBORG, Sweden and EXTON, Pa.Nov. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Swedish specialty pharma company, DuoCort Pharma, announced today that the European Commission has granted a European Marketing Authorisation for Plenadren®(hydrocortisone, modified release tablet), an orphan drug for treatment of adrenal insufficiency in adults,  bringing these patients their first pharmaceutical innovation in over 50 years.

Developed by DuoCort Pharma, Plenadren® is a dual release hydrocortisone replacement therapy designed to better mimic the normal physiological cortisol profile in order to improve outcomes for patients suffering from adrenal insufficiency. Plenadren® is given as an oral tablet once daily.  It has an outer layer releasing hydrocortisone immediately and an inner core releasing the rest of the drug more slowly during the day.

Although glucocorticoid hormone replacement therapy for adrenal insufficiency has been available for decades, studies have recorded complications and comorbidities including premature death, impaired quality of life, increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, and decreased bone mineral density in treated patients, most likely because it is difficult to match the natural secretion pattern of cortisol.  

Maria Forss, CEO of DuoCort Pharma, said: "The marketing authorization for Plenadren® in Europe is an important step towards addressing the unmet needs of these patients."    

The approval of Plenadren® follows the positive opinion adopted by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) in July 2011. Plenadren® is now approved for marketing in all countries of the European Union (EU) as well as in the European Economic Area (EEA), namely IcelandNorway and Lichtenstein.  

Professor Gudmundur Johannsson of the Department of Endocrinology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden, and Chief Medical Officer of DuoCort Pharma, said: "Plenadren® offers a welcome new treatment option to help patients suffering from adrenal insufficiency. Plenadren® can improve therapy for many of the almost 200,000 patients in Europe who suffer from this disease and who need life-long cortisol replacement therapy for their survival."

On October 26, 2011, ViroPharma Incorporated (NASDAQ: VPHM) signed a definitive agreement to acquire DuoCort Pharma AB.  The companies expect to complete the acquisition in November 2011. On closing, ViroPharma will pay an upfront closing cost of 220 million Swedish kroner (SEK) or $33 million in US dollars (USD).  Additionally, there are contingent milestone payments of up to 860 million SEK or $130 million USD associated with manufacturing, sales thresholds and territory expansion.  

About Adrenal insufficiency

Adrenal insufficiency (cortisol deficiency) is a rare, life-threatening disease that affects patients in their active years. To survive, patients suffering from this disease need lifelong replacement therapy with hydrocortisone. Treatment of adrenal insufficiency involves replacing, or substituting, the hormones that the patient's own adrenal glands are not producing. Cortisol is replaced using hydrocortisone, the synthetic form of cortisol.

About Plenadren® (hydrocortisone, modified release tablet)

Plenadren is the first true innovation in over 50 years in the treatment of adrenal insufficiency.

Hypersensitivity to the active substance of Plenadren or to any of the excipients may occur.  During acute adrenal insufficiency, parenteral administration of hydrocortisone in high doses, together with physiological sodium chloride solution for injection, must be given.  Use of Plenadren with potent CYP 3A4 inducers and inhibitors may merit an adjustment of hydrocortisone dosage.  High (supra-physiological) dosages of cortisone can cause elevation of blood pressure, salt and water retention, and increased excretion of potassium.  Long-term treatment with higher than physiological hydrocortisone doses can lead to clinical features resembling Cushing's syndrome with increased adiposity, abdominal obesity, hypertension and diabetes, and thus result in an increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. All glucocorticoids increase calcium excretion and reduce the bone remodeling rate.  Patients with adrenal insufficiency on long term glucocorticoid replacement therapy have been found to have reduced bone mineral density.  Psychiatric adverse events may occur with systemic glucocorticoids.

The most common adverse reactions observed in clinical studies have been fatigue, gastroenteritis, upper respiratory tract infection, sedation, vertigo and dry eyes. 

About ViroPharma Incorporated

ViroPharma Incorporated is an international biopharmaceutical company committed to developing and commercializing novel solutions for physician specialists to address unmet medical needs of patients living with diseases that have few if any clinical therapeutic options, including C1 esterase inhibitor deficiency, treatment of seizures in children and adolescents, and C. difficile infection (CDI).  Our goal is to provide rewarding careers to employees, to create new standards of care in the way serious diseases are treated, and to build international partnerships with the patients, advocates, and health care professionals we serve.  ViroPharma's commercial products address diseases including hereditary angioedema (HAE), seizures in children and adolescents, and CDI; for full U.S. prescribing information on our products, please download the package inserts at; the prescribing information for other countries can be found

ViroPharma routinely posts information, including press releases, which may be important to investors in the investor relations and media sections of our company's web site, The company encourages investors to consult these sections for more information on ViroPharma and our business.

About DuoCort Pharma

DuoCort Pharma is a drug development company focused on improving glucocorticoid therapy. The company has its origins among researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University  and at Uppsala University in Sweden. DuoCort Pharma has developed Plenadren®, an improved glucocorticoid replacement therapy for patients with adrenal insufficiency, which is a rare disease. DuoCort Pharma has orphan drug designations in EU, Switzerland and the USA for Plenadren®. Plenadren® is a once daily, dual-release hydrocortisone oral tablet. It has an outer layer that releases the drug immediately and an inner core that releases the drug over the day. The tablets come in both 5 mg and 20 mg strengths. For more information please visit

DuoCort Pharma is a project company of the life science incubator PULS. For more information visit  

Disclosure Notice

Certain statements in this press release contain forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking statements provide our current expectations or forecasts of future events, including statements about the benefits of the business combination transaction involving ViroPharma and DuoCort Pharma, including, among others, future financial and operating results, enhanced revenues, ViroPharma's plans, objectives, expectations and intentions and other statements that are not historical facts. The following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements: the ability to achieve the other conditions to closing on the proposed schedule; the risk that the business will not be integrated successfully; the risk that revenues following the acquisition will be lower than expected, including the successful commercialization of Plenadren; potential for disruption from the transaction making it more difficult to maintain relationships with manufacturers, employees or other suppliers; competition and its effect on pricing, spending, third-party relationships and revenues; our ability to achieve favorable pricing for Plenadren from European regulatory authorities; the risk that the safety and/or efficacy results of existing clinical trials for Plenadren will not be consistent with the results of additional clinical studies, including the required registry study, or with commercial usage; market acceptance of Plenadren; and our inability to maintain the orphan drug status associated with Plenadren. These factors, and other factors, including, but not limited to those described in our annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010 and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, could cause future results to differ materially from the expectations expressed in this press release. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release are made as of the date hereof and may become outdated over time. ViroPharma does not assume any responsibility for updating any forward-looking statements. These forward looking statements should not be relied upon as representing our assessments as of any date subsequent to the date of this press release.


SOURCE DuoCort Pharma