Schering-Plough Addresses Major Milestones and Challenges in Treatment of Patients With Chronic Hepatitis C

Highlights key data at the 42nd annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL)

KENILWORTH, N.J., April 11, 2007 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Schering-Plough Corporation reaffirms its commitment to advancing the science and treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection with several key data presentations at the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) 42nd annual meeting in Barcelona, Spain, April 11-15. A total of 38 data presentations highlighting Schering-Plough hepatitis medications will be presented at EASL 2007.

Among these are several studies with PEGINTRON(R) (peginterferon alfa-2b) and REBETOL(R) (ribavirin) combination therapy, a current standard of care in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C, evaluating how results at important treatment milestones can help physicians make informed treatment decisions.

Schering-Plough also is exploring novel therapeutic approaches, both through targeted internal research programs and strategic collaborations. Chief among these efforts is boceprevir (SCH 503034), Schering-Plough's investigational oral HCV protease inhibitor currently in Phase II clinical development for treating chronic hepatitis C. Individual in vitro studies of boceprevir in combination with investigational oral HCV polymerase inhibitors from Wyeth/ViroPharma and Idenix/Novartis have been completed and will be presented at EASL.

"Schering-Plough is proud of its long-term role in introducing innovative treatments to the field of hepatitis," said Robert J. Spiegel, M.D., chief medical officer and senior vice president, Schering-Plough Research Institute. "Our vision with PEGINTRON, our cornerstone HCV therapy, and ongoing work with boceprevir, our investigational oral HCV protease inhibitor, is to continue to advance the science and deliver additional treatment options for patients with hepatitis C infection."

Numerous studies with PEGINTRON will be presented at EASL evaluating patient response to therapy at certain treatment milestones, an approach that is aimed at individualising treatment for patients.

Schering-Plough also is exploring novel therapeutic approaches with PEGINTRON in combination with investigational antiviral agents to optimize treatment for patients with more difficult-to-treat forms of the disease, such as those with HCV genotype 1 and nonresponders to previous therapy.

Schering-Plough is undertaking a large, fully integrated clinical development program for its oral HCV protease inhibitor boceprevir (SCH 503034), with the goal of developing new strategies for improving treatment outcomes for patients with hepatitis C.

As part of this effort, Schering-Plough has collaborated with Wyeth/ViroPharma and Idenix/Novartis to conduct separate in vitro studies of boceprevir in combination with their respective investigational HCV polymerase inhibitors, HCV-796, a non-nucleoside polymerase inhibitor, and NM107 (the active moiety of NM283, valopicitabine), a nucleoside polymerase inhibitor. These in vitro experiments suggest that the combination of boceprevir and either one of these polymerase inhibitors achieves additive antiviral activity and a complementary resistance profile; the combination of two agents increases the barrier for developing resistance to either drug alone.

In addition, Schering-Plough has initiated the HCV SPRINT-1 study (HCV Serine Protease Inhibitor Therapy-1), a large Phase II study that is currently enrolling 400 HCV genotype 1, treatment-naïve patients in sites across the United States, Canada and Europe. The primary objective of the study is to evaluate the safety and efficacy of boceprevir 800 mg TID in combination with PEGINTRON and REBETOL in the treatment-naïve patient population.

Schering-Plough also is conducting a large Phase II study evaluating the safety and efficacy of boceprevir 800 mg TID in combination with PEGINTRON and REBETOL in patients chronically infected with HCV genotype 1 who were nonresponders to previous peginterferon and ribavirin combination therapy. The study involves approximately 350 patients at centers in the United States and Europe. All study participants have completed treatment and are in the follow-up phase. Sustained virological response data from this study will be available later in 2007, and will help guide future clinical development of boceprevir.

Key Data Presentations at EASL

Peginterferon Alfa-2b and Ribavirin for 14 or 24 Weeks in Patients with HCV Genotype 2 or 3 and Rapid Virological Response, The North-C Trial. Dalgard, O. et al. Oral presentation, Sunday, April 15, at 13:15, General Session 4.

A Pegylated Interferon Alfa-2b Dose Reduction in HCV 1B Patients with Rapid Viral Response Does Not Affect Sustained Virological Response. Napoli, N. et al. Poster presentation, Thursday, April 12.

Comparison of Early Virologic Response Among Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C Infected with Genotype Non 2/3 Treated with Pegylated Interferon Alfa-2b and Ribavirin in Dependence with Hepatic Fibrosis Stages. Berak, H. et al. Poster presentation, Thursday, April 12.

Combination of Two Hepatitis C Virus Inhibitors, SCH 503034 (Boceprevir) and NM107 (the active moiety of NM283, valopicitabine), Provides Enhanced Anti-Replicon Activity and Suppresses Emergence of Resistant Replicons. Ralston, R. et al. Late-breaker poster presentation, Thursday, April 12.

Favorable Cross-Resistance Profile of Two Novel Hepatitis C Virus Inhibitors, SCH 503034 (Boceprevir) and HCV-796, and Enhanced Anti-Replicon Activity Mediated by the Combined Use of Both Compounds. Howe, A.Y. et al. Poster presentation Thursday, April 12.

SCH 503034 (Boceprevir), an Oral HCV Protease Inhibitor, is Well Tolerated in Patients with Varying Degrees of Hepatic Impairment. Preston, R.A., et al. Poster presentation Thursday, April 12.

PEGINTRON is approved in the United States for use alone or with ribavirin (800 mg/day) 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

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.

There are no new adverse events specific to PEGINTRON as compared to INTRON(R) 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 percent of patients, which may decrease in severity as treatment continues. Application site disorders were common (47 percent), but all were mild (44 percent) or moderate (4 percent) and no patient discontinued, and included injection site inflammation and reaction (i.e., bruise, itchiness, irritation). Injection site pain was reported in 2 percent 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 percent) with PEGINTRON but similar to INTRON A (58 percent). Depression was most common at 29 percent. Suicidal behavior including ideation, suicidal attempts, and completed suicides occurred in 1 percent 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 1 percent 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 percent in the PEGINTRON/REBETOL groups compared to 14 percent in the INTRON A/REBETOL group. The incidence of severe adverse events in the PEGINTRON/REBETOL combination therapy trial was 23 percent in the INTRON A/REBETOL group and 31-34 percent in the PEGINTRON/REBETOL groups. Dose reductions due to adverse reactions occurred in 42 percent of patients receiving PEGINTRON (1.5 mcg/kg)/REBETOL and in 34 percent 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 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 company's strategy regarding and the potential of PEGINTRON, REBETOL and boceprevir (SCH 503034). 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.

CONTACT: Media, Robert J. Consalvo, +1-908-298-7409; or Investors, AlexKelly, +1-908-298-7436, or Robyn Brown, +1-908-298-7436, all ofSchering-Plough Corporation

Web site: http://www.schering-plough.com//

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Posted: April 2007


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