Phase II Study Shows that Nitazoxanide Significantly Improves Response to Standard of Care in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C

Data to be Presented at AASLD Meeting

TAMPA, Fla., November 02, 2007 /PRNewswire/ -- Romark Laboratories, a privately-owned biotechnology company, today announced results of a randomized phase II clinical trial showing that 79% of interferon-naive patients with chronic hepatitis C genotype 4 receiving nitazoxanide plus the standard of care had a sustained virologic response (SVR), or undetectable level of virus, 12 weeks following treatment, compared to 43% of patients receiving the standard of care without nitazoxanide. The patients treated with nitazoxanide also experienced no relapse and no more side effects than patients who received the standard of care. Interim results from this Phase II clinical trial will be presented on Tuesday November 6 in an oral presentation at the 58th Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) in Boston.

"Patients treated with nitazoxanide responded earlier and maintained their responses without relapse after receiving only 36 weeks of treatment with peginterferon and ribavirin," said Dr. Emmet B. Keeffe, Chief of Hepatology at Stanford University School of Medicine. "These data suggest the emergence of a new therapeutic approach for treating hepatitis C. While more study is needed to confirm these results in a broader population of patients, nitazoxanide appears to increase the potency of interferon without increasing toxicity or inducing resistance."

Study Details

This Phase II randomized, controlled trial was conducted at two centers in Egypt and is part of the company's STEALTH C (Studies to Evaluate Alinia for Treatment of Hepatitis C) clinical development program, which is designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of nitazoxanide tablets in combination with peginterferon or peginterferon and ribavirin (standard of care) in patients with chronic hepatitis C.

In the trial, 96 treatment-naive patients with chronic hepatitis C genotype 4 were randomized into three groups to receive either 48 weeks of standard of care treatment (n=40), 12 weeks of nitazoxanide followed by 36 weeks of nitazoxanide plus peginterferon (a dual regimen, n=28), or 12 weeks of nitazoxanide followed by 36 weeks of nitazoxanide plus standard of care treatment (a triple regimen, n=28). An additional 24 interferon-experienced patients were randomized to receive 12 weeks of nitazoxanide followed by either the dual regimen (n=12) or the triple regimen (n=12) for 36 weeks. Patients received 180 microgram injections of pegylated interferon (Pegasys(R)) once per week; nitazoxanide was administered as one 500 mg tablet twice daily; and ribavirin was administered as 1,000 or 1,200 mg daily according to weight.

Results

At 12 weeks following the end of treatment, naive patients who received a triple regimen that included standard of care and nitazoxanide showed a significantly higher SVR (HCV RNA <10 IU/mL, Abbott m2000) than the group receiving the standard of care regimen (79% vs. 43%, respectively) (p=0.006). The data also suggest a potential for eliminating or reducing the role of ribavirin in treating hepatitis C. Patients treated with a dual regimen of nitazoxanide and peginterferon showed an SVR at week 12 following the end of treatment that was not inferior to standard of care (68% vs. 43%, respectively) (+25%; 95% CI: -1%, +47%). Of 24 treatment-experienced patients, the triple regimen (n=12) resulted in an SVR of 25% at week 12 post- treatment, and the dual regimen group (n=12) had an SVR of 8%.

"Results from this trial validate a new approach to treating HCV that focuses on the interaction between the virus and the cell," said Jean-Francois Rossignol, M.D., Director of the Romark Institute for Medical Research. "With confirmation provided by this data we are aggressively pursuing development of nitazoxanide and related drugs to treat chronic hepatitis C and other viral diseases."

Nitazoxanide is the first of a new class of small molecule drugs called thiazolides that inhibit replication of a broad range of viruses. The drug was discovered by Dr. Rossignol and was initially developed by Romark and approved for marketing in the United States as the first treatment of cryptosporidiosis. Serendipitously, the development of nitazoxanide for treating cryptosporidiosis led to the discovery of its antiviral properties and ultimately to the discovery of a promising new class of antiviral drugs.

Romark is currently conducting a U.S. Phase II trial with nitazoxanide plus standard of care in patients with hepatitis C genotype 1 who were previously treated with interferon. The Company also plans to initiate a Phase II trial in treatment naive patients early in 2008.

About Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), a virus spread through direct contact with the blood of infected people. Chronic HCV infection may cause liver cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma. An estimated 3.2 million people in the U.S. are chronically infected by hepatitis C virus. Globally, an estimated 170 million people are chronically infected, with three to four million persons newly infected each year, according to the World Health Organization.

About Romark Laboratories

Romark Laboratories, L.C. (www.romark.com) is a privately-owned biotechnology company committed to the discovery and development of innovative new small molecules for treating infectious diseases, cancers, and autoimmune diseases.

About Alinia

Alinia (nitazoxanide) is indicated in the United States for treatment of diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium parvum or Giardia lamblia in patients 1 year of age and older. Alinia has not been shown to be superior to placebo for the treatment of diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium parvum in HIV-infected or immunodeficient patients. The most common adverse events reported by patients receiving Alinia have been abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache and nausea. In controlled trials, the frequency of these events has been similar to patients receiving a placebo. Alinia is an investigational new drug in the United States for treating chronic hepatitis C.

CONTACT: Company Contact, Ana Good, +1-813-282-8544 ext.243; or Media,Brad Miles, +1-212-477-9007 x17; or Daniel Budwick, +1-212-477-9007 x14,both of BMC Communications Group, LLC, for Romark Laboratories

Web site: http://www.romark.com/

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Posted: November 2007

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