Pegintron Approved in China for Treating Chronic Hepatitis B

Individualized Treatment Provides an Effective, New Option to Chinese Patients

KENILWORTH, N.J., April 05, 2007 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Schering-Plough Corporation today announced that PEGINTRON(TM) (peginterferon alfa-2b) has been approved by the Chinese State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) for the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis B, the most prevalent infectious disease in China and one of the country's leading causes of death. There are 120 million chronic carriers of the hepatitis B virus in China and each year more than 330,000 people die in China due to hepatitis B-related complications, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.

PEGINTRON is administered once weekly at an individualized dose according to a patient's weight and is the only pegylated interferon indicated in China for a 24 week treatment duration in the hepatitis B patient population. The SFDA approval is based in part on a multicenter clinical trial in e-antigen positive chronic hepatitis B patients in China showing that PEGINTRON achieved a sustained response with 24 weeks of therapy when used as a first-line treatment.(1) PEGINTRON has been available in China since 2004 for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.

"Schering-Plough is pleased to offer this effective new treatment option for Chinese patients with chronic hepatitis B, a major public health problem in China," said Robert J. Spiegel, M.D., chief medical officer and senior vice president, Schering-Plough Research Institute. "We applaud the SFDA and Chinese healthcare professionals for their ongoing efforts in fighting hepatitis B, and we are committed to continuing our work with them and to educating patients on the importance of effective antiviral treatment."

Schering-Plough has been working together with Chinese healthcare professionals and patients for nearly 15 years on hepatitis B education for INTRON(R) A, which was approved in China for hepatitis B and C in 1993. In addition, the company offers ongoing educational programs in China to help support patients on PEGINTRON and INTRON A therapy.

PEGINTRON

PEGINTRON is not approved in the United States for treatment of chronic hepatitis B. In the United States, PEGINTRON is indicated for use alone or with ribavirin for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C in patients with compensated liver disease who have not been previously treated with interferon alpha and who are at least 18 years of age.

Important Safety Information Regarding U.S. Labeling for PEGINTRON and REBETOL

WARNING

Alpha interferons, including PEGINTRON, may cause or aggravate fatal or life-threatening neuropsychiatric, autoimmune, ischemic, and infectious disorders. Patients should be monitored closely with periodic clinical and laboratory evaluations. Patients with persistently severe or worsening signs or symptoms of these conditions should be withdrawn from therapy. In many but not all cases these disorders resolve after stopping PEGINTRON therapy.

Ribavirin causes hemolytic anemia. Anemia associated with REBETOL therapy may exacerbate cardiac disease that has led to fatal and nonfatal myocardial infarctions. Patients with a history of significant or unstable cardiac disease should not be treated with REBETOL. It is advised that complete blood counts (CBC) be obtained at baseline and at weeks 2 and 4 of therapy or more frequently if clinically indicated.

REBETOL and combination REBETOL/PEGINTRON therapy must not be used by women, or male partners of women, who are or may become pregnant during therapy and during the 6 months after stopping therapy. REBETOL and combination REBETOL/PEGINTRON therapy should not be initiated until a report of a negative pregnancy test has been obtained immediately prior to initiation of therapy. Women of childbearing potential and men must use effective contraception (at least two reliable forms) during treatment and during the 6-month post-treatment follow-up period. Significant teratogenic and/or embryocidal effects have been demonstrated for ribavirin in all animal species in which adequate studies have been conducted. These effects occurred at doses as low as one twentieth of the recommended human dose of REBETOL. If pregnancy occurs in a patient or partner of a patient during treatment or during the 6 months after treatment stops, physicians are encouraged to report such cases by calling (800) 727-7064.

PEGINTRON

There are no new adverse events specific to PEGINTRON as compared to INTRON A (Interferon alfa-2b, recombinant) for Injection; however, the incidence of some (e.g., injection site reactions, fever, rigors, nausea) were higher. The most common adverse events associated with PEGINTRON were "flu-like" symptoms, occurring in approximately 50% of patients, which may decrease in severity as treatment continues. Application site disorders were common (47%), but all were mild (44%) or moderate (4%) and no patient discontinued, and included injection site inflammation and reaction (i.e., bruise, itchiness, irritation). Injection site pain was reported in 2% of patients receiving PEGINTRON. Alopecia (thinning of the hair) is also often associated with alpha interferons including PEGINTRON.

Psychiatric adverse events, which include insomnia, were common (57%) with PEGINTRON, but similar to INTRON A (58%). Depression was most common at 29%. Suicidal behavior including ideation, suicidal attempts, and completed suicides occurred in 1% of patients during or shortly after completing treatment with PEGINTRON.

PEGINTRON/REBETOL is contraindicated in patients with autoimmune hepatitis, decompensated liver disease, and in patients with hemoglobinopathies (e.g., thalassemia major, sickle-cell anemia).

The following serious or clinically significant adverse events have been reported at a frequency less than or equal to 1% with PEGINTRON or interferon alpha: Severe decreases in neutrophil or platelet counts, hypothyroidism, hyperglycemia, hypotension, arrhythmia, ulcerative and hemorrhagic colitis, development or exacerbation of autoimmune disorders including thyroiditis, RA, systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriasis, pulmonary disorders (dyspnea, pulmonary infiltrates, pneumonitis and pneumonia, some resulting in patient deaths), urticaria, angioedema, bronchoconstriction, anaphylaxis, retinal hemorrhages, and cotton wool spots.

In the PEGINTRON/REBETOL combination trial the incidence of serious adverse events was 17% in the PEGINTRON/REBETOL groups compared to 14% in the INTRON A/REBETOL group. The incidence of severe adverse events in the PEGINTRON/REBETOL combination therapy trial was 23% in the INTRON A/REBETOL group and 31-34% in the PEGINTRON/REBETOL groups. Dose reductions due to adverse reactions occurred in 42% of patients receiving PEGINTRON (1.5 mcg/kg)/REBETOL and in 34% of those receiving INTRON A/REBETOL.

REBETOL should not be used in patients with creatinine clearance less than 50 mL/min.

Schering-Plough is a global science-based health care company with leading prescription, consumer and animal health products. Through internal research and collaborations with partners, Schering-Plough discovers, develops, manufactures and markets advanced drug therapies to meet important medical needs. Schering-Plough's vision is to earn the trust of the physicians, patients and customers served by its approximately 33,500 people around the world. The company is based in Kenilworth, N.J., and its Web site is http://www.schering-plough.com.

SCHERING-PLOUGH DISCLOSURE NOTICE: The information in this press release includes certain "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements relating to the potential market for PEGINTRON. Forward-looking statements relate to expectations or forecasts of future events. Schering-Plough does not assume the obligation to update any forward-looking statement. Many factors could cause actual results to differ materially from Schering-Plough's forward-looking statements, including market forces, economic factors, product availability, patent and other intellectual property protection, current and future branded, generic or over-the-counter competition, the regulatory process, and any developments following regulatory approval, among other uncertainties. For further details of these and other risks and uncertainties that may impact forward-looking statements, see Schering-Plough's Securities and Exchange Commission filings, including Part I, Item 1A, "Risk Factors" in the company's 2006 10-K.

 

    Reference
(1) Zhao H, Si CW, Wei L, Wan MB, Ying YK, Hou JL, Niu JQ. A multicenter,
randomized, open-label study of the safety and effectiveness of
pegylated interferon alfa-2b and interferon alfa-2b in treating HBeAg
positive chronic hepatitis B patients. Zhonghua Gan Zang Bing Za Zhi.
2006 May;14(5):323-6.

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Posted: April 2007


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