Lumateperone schizophrenia drug seems to hit snag

FDA cancels lumateperone advisory panel


U.S. regulators canceled a July 31, 2019, advisory committee about lumateperone, an experimental schizophrenia drug that has had some mixed results in testing.

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On July 23, the Food and Drug Administration announced the cancellation of the Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee meeting it had previously called for to review the new drug application for lumateperone. The agency said the meeting was canceled because of “new information regarding the application.” The FDA said it was continuing to evaluate the application and would, as needed, announce a future meeting on it.

The developer of lumateperone, Intra-Cellular Therapies, issued its own statement on July 23, noting that a meeting had been scheduled with the FDA “shortly” and that an update would be provided after the meeting. The New York–based firm also said it recently had provided additional information to the FDA to meet agency requests. This information was related to “nonclinical studies.”

“The FDA canceled the advisory committee meeting to allow sufficient time to review this new and any forthcoming information as they continue” to review the new drug application for lumateperone, Intra-Cellular said in the July 23 statement. The company also said there may be an extension of the FDA’s Sept. 27, 2019, target action date on the lumateperone application.

Investors viewed this as bad news. Shares of Intra-Cellular on July 23 dropped from an opening price of $11.90 to a closing one of $8.19. On July 29, they closed at $8.12.

Still, it is unclear how the FDA will decide on the lumateperone application and whether the agency will call another advisory committee meeting on it.

Last year, the FDA accepted the application for lumateperone, a once-daily treatment, Intra-Cellular said. The agency had in 2017 given a fast-track designation to lumateperone for the treatment of schizophrenia.

Lumateperone is the lead product for the company. Intra-Cellular describes lumateperone as having a novel mechanism of action, and is said to act on the serotonergic, dopaminergic, and glutamatergic systems.

On the company’s website, Intra-Cellular says three large randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials have been done for lumateperone as a schizophrenia drug. In two of these studies, results for lumateperone at a 60-mg dose showed a “statistically significant separation from placebo on the primary endpoint, the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale or PANSS total score.”

In a recent routine filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Intra-Cellular said it was having an “ongoing dialogue” with the FDA about lumateperone. The company in 2016 had announced that, in a phase 3 study known as ITI-007-302, lumateperone had not separated from placebo on the primary endpoint, change from baseline on the PANSS total score, in the predefined patient population. The active control for ITI-007-302, risperidone, did separate from placebo.

In the recent SEC filing, Intra-Cellular said the FDA already has confirmed that the results of ITI-007-302 did not preclude the submission of a new drug application.

Intra-Cellular also said “lumateperone was statistically significantly better than risperidone on key safety and tolerability parameters, and exhibited a safety profile similar to placebo” in the 302 study. Lumateperone’s failure to best placebo in the 302 test was “in part due to an unusually high placebo response at certain sites.”

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