Nov. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Baxter International Inc.’s Feiba drug reduced joint and other bleeding by 62 percent for patients with a severe form of hemophilia, a study showed, offering a possible new treatment for people with few options.
The company-funded trial measured the medicine’s effect on 26 patients, finding the number of times bleeding over six months of taking the therapy as a preventative measure fell to an average of five, compared with 13 times for a group that took the therapy on an in-demand basis, the researchers said in the New England Journal of Medicine today.
Hemophilia, an inherited disorder that prevents blood from clotting properly, affects 20,000 men in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 10 to 15 percent of hemophiliacs develop antibodies, called inhibitors, the CDC says, which prevent the common treatment of injecting a clotting factor concentrate from working. The study tested patients ages 2 to 62 with this resistance.
“Effective strategies to prevent bleeding in such patients have not yet been established,” the study’s authors wrote. Baxter’s therapy showed “significantly decreased overall bleeding” and “was associated with few adverse effects.”
Without clotting proteins to stop bleeding, hemophiliacs risk blindness, joint disease and death. Existing products for treating the majority of patients -- those who lack factor 8 -- include Bayer AG’s Kogenate, Baxter’s Advate and Pfizer Inc.’s Xyntha.
Two so-called bypass agents are available for patients with inhibitors, including Baxter’s Feiba and Novo Nordisk A/S’s NovoSeven, said Cindy Leissinger, professor of medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans and lead author of the study. Researchers chose to use Feiba in the study because it seems to have a longer effect in the body than NovoSeven.
“We were looking for a drug that we could give three times a week, as opposed to maybe every day, which would be a bit harder on patients,” Leissinger said in a telephone interview. “We felt that Feiba might have that ability.”
Baxter’s sales of plasma proteins, which include Feiba, rose 9.6 percent to $1.04 billion in the first nine months of the year. Sales of NovoSeven in the period rose 3 percent to 6.22 million Danish kroner ($1.15 million).
Baxter, based in Deerfield, Illinois, rose 1.9 percent to $54.57 at 4 p.m. New York time. The stock has risen 7.8 percent this year.
“The single greatest remaining challenge in the management of hemophilia is the development of inhibitors, often occurring in young patients, that can lead to more difficult to control and sometimes life-threatening bleeding,” said Bruce Ewenstein, Baxter’s vice president of clinical affairs, in a statement. The study “is particularly encouraging given that there are limited treatment options available for these patients.”
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