PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA, — Harmony Biosciences, LLC (Harmony) announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Wakix (pitolisant) for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) in adult patients with narcolepsy. Wakix is the first and only treatment approved for patients with narcolepsy that is not scheduled as a controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Wakix, a first-in-class medication, is a selective histamine 3 (H₃) receptor antagonist/inverse agonist that works through a novel mechanism of action to increase the synthesis and release of histamine, a wake-promoting neurotransmitter in the brain. Wakix is administered orally once daily in the morning upon wakening.
“The approval of Wakix provides healthcare professionals managing people living with narcolepsy a new and important treatment option for their patients,” said Harmony’s Chief Medical Officer, Jeffrey Dayno, M.D. “Additionally, Wakix is the only non-scheduled treatment option approved for adult patients with narcolepsy, and it offers an important benefit/risk profile to address the unmet medical need that exists in people living with narcolepsy.”
The efficacy of Wakix for the treatment of EDS in adult patients with narcolepsy was evaluated in two multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies (HARMONY 1 and HARMONY 1bis). These studies included a total of 261 patients who were randomized to receive Wakix, placebo, or active control; these patients had a median age of 37 (HARMONY 1) and 40 (HARMONY 1bis). Treatment duration was eight weeks, with a three-week dose titration phase followed by a 5-week stable dose phase; 75% to 80% of the patients in these studies had a history of cataplexy. In both of these studies, WAKIX demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in EDS as measured by the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) score. In the placebo-controlled trials conducted in patients with narcolepsy with or without cataplexy, the most common adverse reactions (occurring in ≥5% of patients and at twice the rate of placebo) with the use of WAKIX were insomnia (6%), nausea (6%), and anxiety (5%).
Wakix will be commercially available to healthcare professionals and appropriate patients in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2019.
About Wakix (pitolisant)
Wakix is a first-in-class medication approved for use in the U.S. for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness in adult patients with narcolepsy. It was granted orphan drug designation for the treatment of narcolepsy in 2010. WAKIX is a selective histamine 3 (H₃) receptor antagonist/inverse agonist. The mechanism of action of Wakix is unclear; however, its efficacy could be mediated through its activity at H₃ receptors, thereby increasing the synthesis and release of histamine, a wake promoting neurotransmitter. WAKIX was designed and developed by Bioprojet Societe Civile de Recherche (Bioprojet), who has marketed the product in Europe since its approval by the European Medicines Agency in 2016. Harmony has an exclusive license from Bioprojet to develop, manufacture and commercialize pitolisant in the United States.
Narcolepsy is a rare, chronic, debilitating neurologic disorder of sleep-wake state instability that impacts up to 200,000 Americans and is primarily characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and cataplexy – its two cardinal symptoms – along with other manifestations of REM sleep dysregulation, which intrude into wakefulness. EDS is the inability to stay awake and alert during the day and is the symptom that is present in all people living with narcolepsy. In most patients, narcolepsy is caused by the loss of hypocretin, a neuropeptide in the brain that supports sleep-wake state stability. This disorder affects men and women equally, with typical symptom onset in adolescence or young adulthood; however, it can take up to a decade to be properly diagnosed.
Harmony Biosciences, LLC
Harmony Biosciences, LLC is a private biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Plymouth Meeting, PA. The company was established in October 2017 with a vision to provide novel treatment options for people living with rare and orphan diseases, with an emphasis on central nervous system disorders, starting with patients living with narcolepsy. Harmony is committed to advancing the understanding of narcolepsy and providing information and resources to individuals who live with, and healthcare professionals who treat patients with, this disorder. For more information on Harmony Biosciences, visit www.harmonybiosciences.com.