Sunovion Pharmaceuticals has re-submitted a new drug application (NDA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), once again seeking the approval of its below-the-tongue formulation of apomorphine — called APL-130277 — for Parkinson’s off periods.
The re-submission is a follow-up to the FDA’s “complete response letter” from earlier this year, in which the agency requested additional information — but no new clinical trials — before deciding whether to approve APL-130277.
The new submission includes additional analysis of clinical data, and information about the intended packaging of APL-130277, according to Sunovion.
Off periods in Parkinson’s are characterized by the reappearance or worsening of symptoms such as tremors and dyskinesia, or involuntary movements. These effects are due to a gradual decline in the effectiveness of levodopa, which is the first-line therapy for the neurodegenerative disease. About half of all patients on levodopa experience off episodes, which, although frequent in the morning after awakening, may occur multiple times throughout the day. These episodes become more frequent and severe as the disease progresses.
In the U.S., people with Parkinson’s currently have only Apokyn (apomorphine hydrochloride), developed by US WorldMeds, as an approved medicine for off periods. A form of apomorphine, the medicine is able to quickly penetrate the brain, where it stimulates dopamine receptors to provide short-term relief. However, Apokyn’s subcutaneous, or under-the-skin delivery may cause pain and injection-site reactions.
APL-130277 is a sublingual or under-the-tongue formulation of apomorphine, which may be easier for patients to take. It is intended to provide on-demand and fast-acting lessening of all types of off episodes — meaning those that are unpredictable, those that occur at the end-of-dose, or those occurring after awakening in the morning.
The therapy was designed to be administered up to five times a day, with a minimum of two hours from the prior dose.
This new formulation of the medication contains a two-layer film — one with apomorphine and the other with an acid neutralizer to improve absorption and reduce oral irritation. Compared with Apokyn, APL-130277 is less likely to induce nausea due to a more gradual absorption.
The new drug application for APL-130277, first filed in March 2018, was supported by a 12-week, double-blind Phase 3 trial (NCT02469090). The results showed that, within 30 minutes of dosing, APL-130277 induced a clinically meaningful reduction in the Movement Disorder Society Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale Part 3 score, a measure of Parkinson’s motor symptoms, in comparison with placebo.
The benefits were seen as early as 15 minutes after dosing and were maintained for 90 minutes. Improvements were still detected at weeks four, eight and 12. A higher percentage of patients achieved a full-on response — or control of motor symptoms — within 30 minutes with APL-130277.
“OFF episodes in people with Parkinson’s disease can occur at any point throughout the day, often occurring in the morning after awakening and periodically throughout the day and can disrupt the ability to perform everyday activities,” Antony Loebel, MD, president and CEO at Sunovion, said in a press release.
“We look forward to continuing our dialogue with the FDA during the review period with the intention of bringing a much needed on-demand treatment option for OFF episodes to those living with Parkinson’s disease.”
An ongoing open-label extension study (NCT02542696) is testing the safety and tolerability of APL-130277 when used in the long-term. The trial is still recruiting at Los Angeles and at some European sites. More information can be found here.