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FDA approves new product to treat rare genetic disease

For Immediate Release

July 17, 2014

Release

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration yesterday approved Ruconest, the first recombinant C1-Esterase Inhibitor product for the treatment of acute attacks in adult and adolescent patients with hereditary angioedema (HAE).

Hereditary angioedema, which is caused by having insufficient amounts of a plasma protein called C1-esterase inhibitor, affects approximately 6,000 to 10,000 people in the United States. People with HAE can develop rapid swelling of the hands, feet, limbs, face, intestinal tract, or airway. These acute attacks of swelling can occur spontaneously, or can be triggered by stress, surgery or infection. Swelling of the airway is potentially fatal without immediate treatment.

“Hereditary angioedema is a rare and potentially life-threatening disease,” said Karen Midthun, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “Today’s approval provides an important treatment option for these patients.”

Ruconest is a human recombinant C1-esterase inhibitor purified from the milk of genetically modified (transgenic) rabbits. Ruconest is intended to restore the level of functional C1-esterase inhibitor in a patient’s plasma, thereby treating the acute attack of swelling.  

The safety and efficacy of Ruconest was evaluated in a multicenter controlled clinical trial. Forty-four adult and adolescent patients with acute attacks were treated with Ruconest. The most common adverse reactions reported in patients treated with Ruconest were headache, nausea and diarrhea.

Ruconest received orphan-drug designation for acute attacks by the FDA because it is intended for treatment of a rare disease or condition.

Ruconest is manufactured by Pharming Group NV, Leiden, the Netherlands, and will be distributed in the United States by Santarus Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Salix Pharmaceuticals Inc., Raleigh, North Carolina.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

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