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First potential Prader-Willi treatment among EMA’s orphan recommendations

Ferring’s carbetocin one of 16 treatments backed by Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products

Ferring's carbetocin, potentially the first treatment for Prader-Willi syndrome, is among 16 new medicines recommended to receive orphan drug designation in Europe.

The European Medicines Agency's (EMA) Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products (COMP) said work on carbetocin's use to treat the rare genetic disorder should be granted development incentives.

Prader-Willi syndrome, which is estimated to affect less than 1 in 5,000 people in the EU, causes a variety of symptoms, including a constant desire to eat food, leading to obesity, impaired function of the gonads, learning difficulties and behavioural problems.

Patients with the disease often have a significantly reduced life span and require lifelong care.

Carbetocin's recommendation was supported by the European Organisation for Rare Diseases (Eurordis), a European alliance of patient organisations and individuals involved in the promotion of research for rare diseases and development of orphan drugs.

Other treatments to be recommended by the COMP for orphan drug designation, which is granted to products for life-threatening or very serious conditions that affect no more than 5 in 10,000 people in the EU, included Nexus Oncology's diamidophosphate.

The drug, which is being investigated as a treatment for soft tissue sarcoma, was joined on the list by TMC Pharma Service's chlormethine for treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and Laboratoire HRA Pharma's ketoconazole for treatment of Cushing's syndrome.

Therapies for neglected tropical diseases also featured in the COMP's recommendations, with Dafra Pharma's oleylphosphocholine intended to treat leishmaniasis – a disease caused by sand fly parasites that is estimated to cause as many as 50,000 deaths per year.

The EMA said that orphan medicine incentives can be also used to support the development of treatments for similar neglected diseases, which would not be developed under normal market conditions.

All the COMP's recommendations are now with the European Commission, which will make the final decision on each drug.

• The full list of EMA orphan drug recommendations is available online

17th January 2012

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