MEI Pharma's (MEIP) Pracinostat Receives FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation

August 1, 2016 8:32 AM EDT
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MEI Pharma, Inc. (Nasdaq: MEIP), an oncology company focused on the clinical development of novel therapies for cancer, announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation for the investigational drug Pracinostat in combination with azacitidine for the treatment of patients with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who are ≥75 years of age or unfit for intensive chemotherapy. In addition, agreement has been reached with the FDA on the Company's proposed Phase III study design.

The Breakthrough Therapy Designation is supported by data from a Phase II study of Pracinostat plus azacitidine in elderly patients with newly diagnosed AML, not candidates for induction chemotherapy, which showed a median overall survival of 19.1 months and a complete response (CR) rate of 42% (21 of 50 patients). These data compare favorably to a Phase III study of azacitidine (AZA-AML-0011), which showed a median overall survival of 10.4 months with azacitidine alone and a CR rate of 19.5% in a similar patient population. The combination of Pracinostat and azacitidine was generally well tolerated, with no unexpected toxicities. The most common grade 3/4 treatment-emergent adverse events included febrile neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, anemia and fatigue.

"This designation speaks to both the serious unmet need for AML patients unfit to receive intensive chemotherapy and the promise of Pracinostat to address this need," said Daniel P. Gold, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of MEI Pharma. "With this designation, the FDA recognizes that our preliminary clinical data demonstrate that Pracinostat may result in a substantial improvement in the lives of AML patients over available therapy. We have worked closely with the FDA to get to this point and now focus on executing our Phase III study and bringing Pracinostat to market as quickly and efficiently as possible."

According to the FDA, Breakthrough Therapy Designation is intended to expedite the development and review of drugs for serious or life-threatening conditions. A Breakthrough Therapy Designation has all the benefits of the fast track program together with more intensive guidance on an efficient drug development program and an organizational commitment involving senior managers.

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