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Human Genome Sciences Submits FDA Licensing Application for Albumin Interferon (Zalbin) for Chronic Hepatitis C

SUMMARY: In late November, Human Genome Sciences announced that it has submitted a licensing application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeking approval of albumin interferon alfa-2b (aka albinterferon; brand name Zalbin, formerly Albuferon) for patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Results from the Phase 3 ACHIEVE trials indicate that albumin interferon works as well as pegylated interferon and is equally well tolerated, but lasts longer in the body and may be administered less often.

Below is an edited excerpt from a recent Human Genome Sciences press release describing the study results and the FDA application.

Human Genome Sciences Submits Biologics
License Application to FDA for Zalbin

Rockville, Maryland -- November 25, 2009 -- Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: HGSI) today announced that it has submitted a Biologics License Application (BLA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Zalbin (albinterferon alfa-2b) for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. The BLA submission includes the results of two pivotal Phase 3 clinical trials showing that 900 mcg albinterferon alfa-2b dosed every two weeks met its primary endpoint of non-inferiority to peginterferon alfa-2a (Pegasys) dosed once each week.

The Phase 3 studies, known as ACHIEVE 1 and ACHIEVE 2/3, evaluated albinterferon alfa-2b vs. peginterferon alfa-2a, in combination with ribavirin, for use in the treatment of interferon-naive patients with chronic hepatitis C. In both studies, albinterferon alfa-2b, with half the injections, achieved sustained virologic response comparable to that achieved by peginterferon alfa-2a. The rates of serious and/or severe adverse events were also comparable in these studies. ACHIEVE 1 was conducted in patients infected with genotype 1 virus, and ACHIEVE 2/3 was conducted in patients with genotypes 2 or 3 virus. The two studies treated a total of 2255 patients.

"We look forward to continuing to work closely with Novartis to advance albinterferon alfa-2b to the market under the brand name Zalbin in the United States," said H. Thomas Watkins, President and Chief Executive Officer, HGS. "Assuming licensure by the FDA and other regulatory agencies, HGS believes Zalbin could become an important treatment for chronic hepatitis C. Novartis targets submission of marketing authorization applications under the brand name Joulferon in the rest of the world later this quarter, beginning with Europe."

About the Collaboration with Novartis

Under an exclusive worldwide co-development and commercialization agreement entered into in 2006, HGS and Novartis will co-commercialize albinterferon alfa-2b in the United States as Zalbin, and will share clinical development costs, U.S. commercialization costs and U.S. profits equally. Novartis will be responsible for commercialization of albinterferon alfa-2b as Joulferon in the rest of the world, and will pay HGS a royalty on those sales. These brand names will be subject to confirmation by health authorities at the time of product approval.

HGS has primary responsibility for the bulk manufacture of albinterferon alfa-2b, and Novartis will have responsibility for commercial manufacturing of the finished drug product. Clinical development, commercial milestone and other payments to HGS could total as much as $507.5 million, including $207.5 million received to date. The remaining payments to HGS under the agreement relate to the achievement of certain regulatory approval and commercial milestones.

About Zalbin (albinterferon alfa-2b)

Zalbin (also known as Joulferon) is a genetic fusion of human albumin and interferon alfa created using proprietary HGS albumin-fusion technology. Human albumin is the most prevalent naturally occurring blood protein in the human circulatory system, persisting in circulation in the body for approximately 19 days. Research has shown that genetic fusion of therapeutic proteins to human albumin decreases clearance and prolongs the half-life of the therapeutic proteins.

Zalbin dosed once every two weeks has completed Phase 3 development. In April 2009, positive Phase 3 results of Zalbin in patients with chronic hepatitis C were presented at the 44th annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver in Copenhagen. Data from two pivotal Phase 3 trials, ACHIEVE 1 and ACHIEVE 2/3, showed that Zalbin met its primary endpoint of non-inferiority to Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a). With half the injections, Zalbin achieved a rate of sustained virologic response comparable to Pegasys in these studies; rates of serious and/or severe adverse events were also comparable.

About Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus. It is estimated that as many as 170 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C virus. This includes nearly four million people in the United States. When detectable levels of HCV persist in the blood for at least six months, a person is diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C. Hepatitis C virus can cause serious liver disease, leading to cirrhosis, primary liver cancer and even death. Patients infected with the genotype 1 hepatitis C virus account for approximately 75% of the chronic hepatitis C patients in the U.S.

About Human Genome Sciences

The mission of HGS is to apply great science and great medicine to bring innovative drugs to patients with unmet medical needs. The HGS clinical development pipeline includes novel drugs to treat lupus, hepatitis C, inhalation anthrax and cancer.

The company's primary focus is rapid progress toward the commercialization of its two lead drugs, Benlysta (belimumab) for lupus and Zalbin (albinterferon alfa-2b) for hepatitis C. Phase 3 development has been completed successfully for both Benlysta and Zalbin. The submission of marketing applications for Benlysta is planned in the U.S., Europe and other regions in the first half of 2010. A BLA has been submitted for Zalbin to the FDA in the United States, and Novartis targets submission of marketing authorization applications under the brand name Joulferon in the rest of the world, beginning with Europe in fourth quarter 2009.

For more information about HGS, please visit the company's web site at


Human Genome Sciences, Inc. Human Genome Sciences Submits Biologics License Application to FDA for Zalbin. Press release. November 25, 2009.


























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