Alfasigma USA Inc., which has a commercial hub in Bedminster, announced on Monday it has acquired the brand Zelnorm (tegaserod), a prescription pharmaceutical treatment for irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C), from Sloan Pharma S.à r.l., a subsidiary of U.S. WorldMeds Holdings LLC.
Plans to relaunch Zelnorm in the United States are currently underway, according to Alfasigma.
Originally approved in 2002 as the first prescription medication for IBS-C, Zelnorm was voluntarily withdrawn from the market in 2007 due to concerns regarding possible cardiovascular risk; however, the drug has remained available in the U.S. through an expanded access program authorized by the FDA.
In early 2019, Zelnorm was approved by the FDA for reintroduction for use in adult women (<65 years of age) with IBS-C. The approval to reintroduce Zelnorm came after a thorough safety review by the FDA and an FDA-assembled Gastrointestinal Drugs Advisory Committee (GIDAC), consisting of a review of the clinical data from 29 placebo-controlled trials and post-marketing treatment outcomes data.
“We are excited by the opportunity to make Zelnorm once again available to health care providers to treat adult women in the U.S. suffering from IBS-C,” said Bryan Downey, president and chief executive officer at Alfasigma USA, in a statement. “There is a substantial unmet need for IBS-C therapies with reliable efficacy, comparable safety, and that help address the debilitating pain and bloating associated with the disease. We look forward to making this effective IBS-C treatment available to the patients who may benefit the most,” Downey said.
According to Alfasigma, Zelnorm is the only selective serotonin-4 (5-HT4) receptor agonist approved to treat IBS-C. It provides a unique treatment by targeting the 5-HT4 receptor at multiple neurons (sensory, motor, secretory motor) and smooth muscle cells in the gastrointestinal tract to induce contraction and relaxation, and decrease pain signaling.
“We believed in the value of Zelnorm and invested a tremendous amount of time and effort to receive FDA approval for reintroduction and support for the revised indication in March, 2019. The commercial capabilities of Alfasigma USA make it the right organization to reintroduce Zelnorm to the U.S. market,” said Hans van Zoonen, manager of the Switzerland Branch of Sloan Pharma, S.à r.l.
IBS is prevalent in 7 – 21 percent of adults worldwide and in 5 – 9 percent of adults in the U.S. Its prevalence has increased over the past several decades and is particularly high in adult female patients over 50 years of age. IBS is associated with substantially impaired quality of life, including effects on lifestyle, daily activities, and sleep, as well as work absenteeism.
According to Downey, “[t]he reintroduction of Zelnorm is a first step in fulfilling our promise to find prescription pharmaceutical opportunities for Alfasigma in the U.S. With Zelnorm , our Alfasigma corporate slogan ‘Pharmaceuticals with Passion’ is now as meaningful in the U.S. as it is globally.”
Alfasigma USA said that it looks forward to making Zelnorm available by prescription in the coming weeks.