Genoa Pharmaceuticals, the leader in inhaled medicines for pulmonary fibrosis, today announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted orphan-drug designation to Genoa for the use of pirfenidone in their lead program - inhaled GP-101 for the treatment of IPF.
"Acquiring orphan status marks an important regulatory milestone in GP-101's life cycle to treat people with this devastating disease," said Mark Surber, Ph.D., Genoa's President and Chief Executive Officer. "We are pleased to continue the development of inhaled GP-101, with clinical trials beginning in early 2015."
Oral pirfenidone (Esbriet®) has shown promise to slow IPF disease progression. Unfortunately, a very large oral dose is required to achieve efficacious lung levels. Despite being established at the upper safety threshold (801 mg TID), the resulting oral-delivered lung dose is too low for optimal effect. Moreover, gastrointestinal exposure and large-associated blood levels remain poorly tolerated. For these reasons oral-dose escalation for optimal IPF efficacy is not possible. Complicating matters, dose-absorbing food, first-pass metabolism, and safety-driven dose-reduction and stoppage protocols further reduce lung dose and interrupt maintenance therapy.
To address oral shortcomings and maximize IPF efficacy, Genoa has reformulated pirfenidone for aerosol formation and inhaled, direct-lung delivery (GP-101). By this approach, ~160-fold less inhaled pirfenidone is predicted to deliver Esbriet-equivalent IPF efficacy (5 mg vs. 801 mg). With such a small inhaled dose, remaining safety and tolerability concerns may be eliminated, enabling improved patient compliance and an increased inhaled dose for superior IPF efficacy. In addition to serving as an improved-effect Esbriet replacement, a safe and well-tolerated inhaled product is expected to enable desired, but otherwise poorly-tolerated combination regimens (e.g., with Boehringer Ingelheim's Nintedanib).