Rhythm Pharmaceuticals Receives Orphan Drug Designation from European Medicines Agency for Setmelanotide for Treatment of Acquired Hypothalamic Obesity
BOSTON, Sept. 19, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Rhythm Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: RYTM), a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on transforming the lives of patients and their families living with hyperphagia and severe obesity caused by rare melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) pathway diseases, today announced that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has issued a positive opinion on the Company’s orphan drug designation request for setmelanotide as a treatment for acquired hypothalamic obesity.
“Acquired hypothalamic obesity is a serious disease with severe implications for patients and families and no effective treatment options,” said Yann Mazabraud, Executive Vice President and Head of International at Rhythm. “We are pleased with this EMA positive opinion as it underscores the significant unmet need for these patients and the potential of setmelanotide to bring a precision medicine approach that may benefit patients with this disease across Europe.”
EMA orphan drug designation is granted to drugs intended for the treatment, diagnosis, or prevention of life-threatening or chronically debilitating conditions affecting no more than five in 10,000 individuals in the European Union.
Rhythm is evaluating setmelanotide in a global Phase 3 clinical trial in acquired hypothalamic obesity and expects to complete patient enrollment in the fourth quarter of 2023.
Acquired hypothalamic obesity is a rare form of extreme obesity that occurs following damage to the hypothalamic region of the brain, which includes the MC4R pathway and is responsible for controlling physiological functions such as hunger and weight regulation. It most frequently follows the growth or surgical removal of craniopharyngioma, astrocytoma, or other rare brain tumors. Patients experience rapid weight gain, a reduction in energy expenditure, and an increase in hunger leading to severe obesity within six to 12 months following tumor resection. Rhythm estimates there are approximately 3,500 to 10,000 patients living with acquired hypothalamic obesity in the European countries of Germany, France, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.1
About Rhythm Pharmaceuticals
Rhythm is a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company committed to transforming the lives of patients and their families living with hyperphagia and severe obesity caused by rare melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) diseases. Rhythm’s lead asset, IMCIVREE (setmelanotide) is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and authorized by the European Commission (EC) and the UK’s Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use in accordance with product labeling. Additionally, Rhythm is advancing a broad clinical development program for setmelanotide in other rare MC4R pathway diseases, as well as a preclinical suite of investigational candidates for the treatment of congenital hyperinsulinism. Rhythm’s headquarters is in Boston, MA.
In the United States, setmelanotide is indicated for chronic weight management in adult andi pediatric patients 6 years of age and older with monogenic or syndromic obesity due to POMC, PCSK1 or LEPR deficiency as determined by an FDA-approved test demonstrating variants in POMC, PCSK1 or LEPR genes that are interpreted as pathogenic, likely pathogenic, or of uncertain significance (VUS) and BBS.
In the European Union, setmelanotide is indicated for the treatment of obesity and the control of hunger associated with genetically confirmed Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) or genetically confirmed loss-of-function biallelic proopiomelanocortin (POMC), including PCSK1, deficiency or biallelic leptin receptor (LEPR) deficiency in adults and children 6 years of age and above.
In Canada, setmelanotide is indicated for the treatment of obesity due to Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) or genetically-confirmed biallelic pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 1 (PCSK1), or leptin receptor (LEPR) deficiency due to variants interpreted as pathogenic, likely pathogenic, or of uncertain significance in adults and children 6 years of age and above.
Limitations of Use
Setmelanotide is not indicated for the treatment of patients with the following conditions as setmelanotide would not be expected to be effective:
- Obesity due to suspected POMC, PCSK1 or LEPR deficiency with POMC, PCSK1 or LEPR variants classified as benign or likely benign
- Other types of obesity not related to POMC, PCSK1 or LEPR deficiency, or BBS, including obesity associated with other genetic syndromes and general (polygenic) obesity.
In Europe, Setmelanotide should be prescribed and supervised by a physician with expertise in obesity with underlying genetic etiology.
WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS
Skin Monitoring: Setmelanotide may lead to generalized increased skin pigmentation and darkening of pre-existing naevi because of its pharmacologic effect. Full body skin examinations should be conducted annually to monitor pre-existing and new skin pigmentary lesions before and during treatment with setmelanotide.
Heart Rate and Blood Pressure Monitoring: Heart rate and blood pressure should be monitored as part of standard clinical practice at each medical visit (at least every 6 months) for patients treated with setmelanotide.
Prolonged Penile Erection: Spontaneous penile erections have been reported in clinical trials with setmelanotide. Patients who have a penile erection lasting longer than 4 hours should be instructed to seek emergency medical attention for potential treatment of priapism.
Depression: In clinical trials, depression has been reported in patients treated with setmelanotide. Patients with depression should be monitored at each medical visit during treatment with setmelanotide. Consideration should be given to discontinuing setmelanotide if patients experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
Pediatric Population: The prescribing physician should periodically assess response to setmelanotide therapy. In growing children, the impact of weight loss on growth and maturation should be evaluated. The prescribing physician should monitor growth (height and weight) using age- and sex-appropriate growth curves.
Excipients: This medicinal product contains 10 mg benzyl alcohol in each ml. Benzyl alcohol may cause allergic reactions. Patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding should be advised of the potential risk from the excipient benzyl alcohol, which might accumulate over time and cause metabolic acidosis. This medicinal product should be used with caution in patients with hepatic or renal impairment, because of the potential risk from the excipient benzyl alcohol which might accumulate over time and cause metabolic acidosis.
Sodium: This medicinal product contains less than 1 mmol sodium (23 mg) per dose, that is to say essentially “sodium-free.”
The most frequent adverse reactions are hyperpigmentation (51%), injection site reaction (39%), nausea (33%), and headache (26%).
USE IN SPECIFIC POPULATIONS
There are no data from the use of setmelanotide in pregnant women. Animal studies do not indicate direct harmful effects with respect to reproductive toxicity. However, administration of setmelanotide to pregnant rabbits resulted in decreased maternal food consumption leading to embryo-fetal effects. As a precautionary measure, setmelanotide should not be started during pregnancy or while attempting to get pregnant as weight loss during pregnancy may result in fetal harm. If a patient who is taking setmelanotide has reached a stable weight and becomes pregnant, consideration should be given to maintaining setmelanotide treatment as there was no proof of teratogenicity in the nonclinical data. If a patient who is taking setmelanotide and still losing weight gets pregnant, setmelanotide should either be discontinued, or the dose reduced while monitoring for the recommended weight gain during pregnancy. The treating physician should carefully monitor weight during pregnancy in a patient taking setmelanotide.
It is unknown whether setmelanotide is excreted in human milk. A nonclinical study showed that setmelanotide is excreted in the milk of nursing rats. No quantifiable setmelanotide concentrations were detected in plasma from nursing pups. A risk to the newborn/infant cannot be excluded. A decision must be made whether to discontinue breastfeeding or to discontinue/abstain from setmelanotide therapy taking into account the benefit of breastfeeding for the child and the benefit of therapy for the mother.
No human data on the effect of setmelanotide on fertility are available. Animal studies did not indicate harmful effects with respect to fertility.
To report SUSPECTED ADVERSE REACTIONS, contact Rhythm Pharmaceuticals at +1 (833) 789-6337. See Summary of Product Characteristics’ APPENDIX V for a list of European national reporting systems to communicate adverse reactions.
Please see the full Prescribing Information for additional Important Safety Information.
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements contained in this press release that do not relate to matters of historical fact should be considered forward-looking statements, including without limitation statements regarding the potential, safety, efficacy, and regulatory and clinical progress of setmelanotide and the potential benefits and expectations of receipt of a positive opinion on the Company’s orphan drug designation request for setmelanotide as a treatment for acquired hypothalamic obesity; and expectations regarding the prevalence of patients living with acquired hypothalamic obesity. Statements using words such as “expect”, “anticipate”, “believe”, “may”, “will” and similar terms are also forward-looking statements. Such statements are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, risks relating to our liquidity and expenses, our ability to enroll patients in clinical trials, the design and outcome of clinical trials, the ability to achieve necessary regulatory approvals, risks associated with data analysis and reporting, failure to identify and develop additional product candidates, unfavorable pricing regulations, third-party reimbursement practices or healthcare reform initiatives, risks associated with the laws and regulations governing our international operations and the costs of any related compliance programs, our ability to obtain or maintain orphan drug designations for setmelanotide or to obtain or maintain exclusivity in any use, the impact of competition, risks relating to product liability lawsuits, inability to maintain our collaborations, or the failure of these collaborations, our reliance on third parties, risks relating to intellectual property, our ability to hire and retain necessary personnel, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and general economic conditions on our business and operations, including our preclinical studies, clinical trials and commercialization prospects, and the other important factors discussed under the caption “Risk Factors” in our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the three months ended June 30, 2023 and our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligations to make any revisions to the forward-looking statements contained in this release or to update them to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this release, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.
Executive Director, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications
Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Berry & Company Public Relations
1 Rhythm’s European prevalence estimate for hypothalamic obesity is limited to the EU4, UK and the Netherlands. The total 2020 population estimates for the six key countries (Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, and UK) of 339,295,304 was used to reach a final prevalence of 0.1-0.3 in 10,000 patients.