SOURCE: Speedel Holding AG

May 21, 2007 01:31 ET


BASEL, SWITZERLAND -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 21, 2007 --


Basel/Switzerland and Bridgewater NJ/USA, 21 May 2007

Speedel (SWX: SPPN) today welcomed the significant new results from clinical trials of SPP100 (aliskiren, Tekturna/Rasliez[1]) presented by investigators at the 22nd Annual Scientific Meeting and Exposition of the American Society of Hypertension (ASH) in Chicago, IL, USA. These results confirm the favourable safety and efficacy profile, as well as the potential advantages of this first-in-class once daily direct renin inhibitor for the treatment of hypertension. Tekturna was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and launched by Novartis in the US in March 2007 to treat hypertension both as monotherapy and in combination with other anti-hypertensives. In September 2006, SPP100 was also submitted by Novartis to the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) for review in the European Union. Speedel successfully developed SPP100 through Phase I and II clinical trials before Novartis exercised its license-back option in 2002.

Dr. J. Chris Jensen, Speedel Head of Scientific Affairs, commented: "The extensive data presented at this important scientific meeting highlights the potential of SPP100 as the next gold standard in the treatment of hypertension. It is particularly encouraging to note that SPP100 is the only anti-hypertensive therapy which lowers blood pressure and plasma renin activity, irrespective of the amount of renin circulating in the bloodstream."

Speedel also welcomes the announcement today by Novartis that the FDA has accepted for regulatory review the fixed dose combination of Tekturna with the diuretic HCTZ[2]. Single pill fixed dose combinations of different therapies, particularly a diuretic, are commonly used to help patients achieve their blood pressure goals and to improve patient compliance. The submission of Tekturna HCT[3] was based on data from seven clinical trials involving more than 6,200 patients[4], including the data presented at the ASH meeting. Submissions were made for four different dosage combinations of Tekturna and Hydrochlorothiazide: 150/12.5 mg tablets, 150/25 mg tablets, 300/12.5 mg tablets and 300/25 mg tablets.

Speedel was the first company to demonstrate the benefits of combining a renin inhibitor with a diuretic during its pilot clinical development programme of SPP100 between 2000-2002 [5].

Mr Ben Tan, Speedel Head of Business Development & Licensing commented "In the antihypertensive drug market, the most commonly prescribed fixed combinations contain a diuretic. It is rewarding to know that subject to FDA approval, patients may soon benefit from Tekturna HCT which will increase convenience and compliance, therefore resulting in better control of blood pressure".

Highlights of data presented at ASH

1. Patients treated for 6 months with SPP100 as monotherapy or in co-administration with a diuretic HCTZ showed sustained reductions in blood pressure (BP) and plasma renin activity (PRA), even though plasma renin concentration (PRC) remained elevated. These reductions in BP and PRA were greater than for those patients treated with ramipril (ACE-I[4]) who also showed elevated PRC (Poster P - 445).

2. Two weeks and four weeks after patients stopped receiving SPP100 based therapy, they still showed persistent reductions in BP and PRA respectively, compared to those patients who were taken off ramipril (ACE-I) therapy (Poster P- 445).

3. Patients treated for 12 months with SPP100 as monotherapy or in co-administration with amlodipine (CCB[5]) showed sustained reductions in blood pressure (BP) and plasma renin activity (PRA), while plasma renin concentration (PRC) was stable essentially at the same level after 12 months as it was after 6 months. In contrast, patients treated with a diuretic HCTZ showed increased PRA (Poster P- 421).

4. Patients treated for 8 weeks with a combination of the maximum dose 300mg of SPP100 and the maximum dose 320mg of Diovan [6] (ARB[7]) showed significant clinically relevant additional BP reductions of 4.2/3.2 mmHg and 4.4/2.5 mmHg compared to SPP100 and Diovan monotherapies respectively. This large study of 1,776 patients has produced a novel observation about the benefits of combining the maximum therapeutic doses of SPP100 and Diovan. There has only been one other small study combining the maximum recommended doses of an ACE-I and an ARB which also showed significant additional reductions in BP (Poster P - 418).

5. Patients treated with a combination of the maximum dose 300mg of SPP100 and the maximum dose 320mg of Diovan (ARB) showed significantly greater reductions in BP over an entire 24-hour period compared to SPP100 and Diovan monotherapies. This is particularly important during the night-time and early morning hours as many cardiovascular events occur between 2am and 6am. The results were consistent for both patients whose blood pressure naturally decreases at night (dippers) and for those whose blood pressure remains high at night (non-dippers) (Poster P - 452).

6. In a study of obese patients, who did not achieve BP control with the diuretic HCTZ alone, it was shown that patients treated for 8 weeks with a combination of SPP100 and HCTZ provided additional significant BP reductions. The combination also improved the number of patients achieving BP control compared to those receiving HCTZ alone. The combination of SPP100 and HCTZ also did not show the increased levels of fluid retention associated with the combination of amlodipine (CCB) and HCTZ (Poster P - 401)

The World Health Organization and the JNC-VII[8] estimate that 70% of hypertensive patients currently do not reach their blood pressure goals. As many patients with hypertension require more than one antihypertensive drug to control their elevated blood pressure, it is important that SPP100 leads to additional blood pressure lowering effects when combined with other antihypertensive drugs.

Summary of posters presented by investigators 19-22 May 2007 at the 22nd Annual Scientific Meeting and Exposition of the American Society of Hypertension (ASH) in Chicago, IL, USA

Aliskiren-based therapy provides long-term suppression of plasma renin activity that persists after stopping therapy in patients with hypertension Myron H Weinberger, Karl Andersen, Christian M Constance, Mohammed A Ali, James Jin, Margaret F Prescott; Poster P-445

  * Aliskiren-based therapy produced effective control of blood
    pressure and plasma renin activity over 6 months.
  * Significant reductions of plasma renin activity persisted 4 weeks
    after stopping aliskiren treatment in parallel with sustained
    blood pressure reductions, suggesting that aliskiren has
    continued inhibitory effects on the renin system beyond its
    plasma elimination half-life.

Aliskiren-based therapy provides long-term renin system suppression in patients with hypertension in a 52-wk comparator trial with hydrochlorothiazide-based therapy T Philipp, RE Schmieder, J Guerediaga, M Gorostidi, B Smith, M Maboudian, J Botha, MF Prescott; Poster P-421

  * Aliskiren-based therapy provided reductions of plasma renin
    activity that were maintained during long-term (12 months)
    treatment in patients with mild-to moderate essential

The direct renin inhibitor aliskiren in combination with valsartan provides additional blood pressure-lowering effects compared with either agent alone in patients with hypertension S Oparil, SA Yarows, S Patel, H Fang, J Zhang, A Satlin; Poster P-418

  * Dual renin system intervention with the combination of aliskiren
    and valsartan provides clinically significant additional blood
    pressure reductions and improved blood pressure control, with
    tolerability similar to that of the individual monotherapies.

Aliskiren in combination with valsartan provides superior 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure reductions compared with either agent alone in patients with hypertension SA Yarows, S Oparil, S Patel, H Fang, J Zhang, A Satlin; Poster P-452

  * The additional blood pressure reductions provided by an
    aliskiren/valsartan combination over each antihypertensive agent
    alone are sustained over the entire 24-h dosing interval in both
    dippers and non-dippers and exhibit less variability.

Direct renin inhibition with aliskiren improves blood pressure control in obese patients with hypertension who do not respond to first-line hydrochlorothiazide treatment J Jordan, SW Boye, S Le Breton, DL Keefe; Poster 401

  *  The combination of aliskiren with hydrochlorothiazide  provided
    significant additional blood pressure reductions and
    significantly improved blood pressure control rates in obese
    patients with hypertension, without the increased rate of edema
    associated with amlodipine/hydrochlorothiazide.

Aliskiren, a direct renin inhibitor, provides antihypertensive efficacy and excellent tolerability independent of age or gender in patients with hypertension B Dahlöf, DR Anderson, V Arora, C Bush, DL Keefe; Poster P-376

  * This pooled analysis of randomized clinical trials in a total of
    8481 patients showed that once-daily treatment with the direct
    renin inhibitor aliskiren at doses of 150 and 300 mg provided
    effective, dose dependent blood pressure-lowering independent of
    age or gender in patients with mild-to-moderate hypertension.
  * Aliskiren treatment provided numerically greater
    placebo-subtracted reductions in mean systolic blood pressure in
    patients aged over 65 years compared with younger patients. This
    may be clinically useful because the prevalence of isolated
    systolic hypertension is increased in elderly patients, and
    elevated systolic blood pressure is difficult to control.
  * Aliskiren 150 and 300 mg monotherapy was equally well tolerated
    in elderly and younger patients, and in men and women with
    hypertension, and exhibited a tolerability profile similar to
    that of placebo in all subgroups.

Long-term safety and efficacy of aliskiren, an oral direct renin inhibitor, in Japanese patients with hypertension T Kushiro, H Itakura, Y Abo, H Gotou, S Terao, DL Keefe; Poster P-406

  * Long-term therapy with aliskiren alone or in combination with a
    diuretic and/or calcium channel blocker in Japanese patients with
    hypertension is well tolerated and provides effective blood
    pressure reductions that are maintained over 52 weeks of

Aliskiren in combination with hydrochlorothiazide is effective and well tolerated during long-term treatment of hypertension AH Gradman, RE Kolloch, M Meyers, J Cai, J Zhang; Poster P-384

  * Aliskiren, as monotherapy and in combination with
    hydrochlorothiazide, provides an effective and well-tolerated
    long-term treatment for hypertension. Furthermore, the high-dose
    combination of aliskiren/hydrochlorothiazide (300 mg/25 mg) shows
    good tolerability and durable blood pressure-lowering efficacy
    over 12 months of treatment.

Aliskiren-based therapy lowers blood pressure more effectively than hydrochlorothiazide-based therapy in patients with hypertension RE Schmieder, T Philipp, J Guerediaga, M Gorostidi, B Smith, N Weissbach, A Krebs-Brown, H van Ingen; Poster P-436

  * Long-term aliskiren-based therapy was well tolerated and provided
    significantly greater blood pressure reductions than
    hydrochlorothiazide-based therapy in patients with
    mild-to-moderate hypertension.
  * Aliskiren 300 mg monotherapy was superior to hydrochlorothiazide
    25 mg monotherapy in lowering blood pressure.

About SPP100 (aliskiren, Tekturna/Rasilez[9])

SPP100 (aliskiren, Tekturna/Rasilez) is the first-in-class oral direct renin inhibitor. The development of SPP100 is the result of over 20 years of research on renin. Renin is the key enzyme at the top of the Renin Angiotensin System (RAS), one of the key regulators of blood pressure. The RAS is a cascade, starting with renin, leading to angiotensin I and finally to angiotensin II. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-Is) and angiotensin II receptor antagonists (ARBs) have been developed to block this system "down stream" and have shown clinical efficacy in patients with hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.

By inhibiting renin at the top of the RAS, SPP100 decreases the system's activity, as measured by Plasma Renin Activity. PRA is believed to be very important in end-organ protection (e.g. heart and kidney). PRA is an independent and direct surrogate marker for several cardio-renal diseases, such as myocardial infarction and chronic renal disease. Renin inhibitors lower PRA whereas most current leading anti-hypertensive drug classes such as ACE-Is and ARBs increase PRA levels.

Speedel in-licensed SPP100 from Novartis in 1999 and successfully completed 18 clinical trials, through Phase I and II in about 500 patients and healthy volunteers. Based on the results generated during this programme, Novartis exercised a license-back option in 2002, and Novartis subsequently started trials with SPP100 in Phase III as monotherapy for hypertension and in Phase IIb as combination therapy. Regulatory approval was given by the US FDA in March 2007 and a regulatory submission was made by Novartis in the EU during Q3 2006.

Speedel believes that it is the first company to establish successfully a clinical proof of concept in Phase II and to have developed and filed for patent protection a commercially viable manufacturing process for a renin inhibitor, an area of industry research for over 20 years. In a Phase II study of 200 patients conducted by Speedel, it was demonstrated that Tekturna achieves dose-dependent blood pressure reduction. The study also showed that 150mg and 300mg SPP100 once daily were comparable to Losartan 100mg, which is double the usual starting dose of this ARB (Stanton, Jensen, Nussberger, O'Brien, Hypertension.2003; 42: 1137-1143).

About Speedel

Speedel is a public biopharmaceutical company that seeks to create value for patients, partners and investors by developing innovative therapies for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Speedel is a world leader in renin inhibition, a promising new approach with significant potential for treating cardiovascular diseases. Our lead compound SPP100 ( Tekturna/Rasilez [10]), the first-in-class direct renin inhibitor, was in-licensed from Novartis in 1999 and licensed-back to Novartis Pharma in 2002 for further development and commercialisation; Tekturna was approved by the FDA in the US in March 2007, and filed by Novartis with the EMEA in the EU in Q3 2006. Our pipeline covers three different modes of action, and in addition to SPP100, includes SPP301 in Phase III (on hold), SPP200 in Phase II, SPP635 in Phase Il, SPP1148 in Phase I and several pre-clinical projects.

Speedel develops novel product candidates through focused innovation and smart drug development from lead identification to the end of Phase II. We either partner with big pharma for Phase III and commercialisation in primary-care indications, or we may ourselves complete Phase III development in specialist indications. Candidate compounds for development and the company's intellectual property come from our late-stage research unit Speedel Experimenta and from in-licensing. Our team of approximately 70 employees, including over 30 experienced pharmaceutical scientists, is located at our headquarters and laboratories in Basel, Switzerland and at offices in New Jersey, USA and Tokyo, Japan.

In January 2007 the company raised gross proceeds of CHF 55.5 million (approximately EUR 34.3 million or USD 44.5 million) through a convertible bond issue. In March 2006 the company raised gross proceeds of CHF 83.95 million (approximately EUR 53m or USD 64m) through the public offering of 500,000 treasury shares. Previously, as a private company, we raised gross proceeds of CHF 255 million (approximately EUR 157 million or USD 204 million) from private placements of equity securities and two convertible loans including the conversion premiums. We have had total revenues, principally from milestone payments, of CHF 57.7 million (approximately EUR 37 million or USD 44 million). The company's shares were listed in September 2005 on the SWX Swiss Exchange under the symbol SPPN.

Forward looking statements

This press release includes forward-looking statements that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. These forward-looking statements are based on our current expectations and projections about future events. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, regarding our strategy, future operations, future financial position, future revenues, projected costs, prospects, plans and objectives of management are forward-looking statements. The word "may" and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. We may not actually achieve the plans, intentions or expectations described in these forward-looking statements and you should not place undue reliance on them. There can be no assurance that actual results of our research and development activities and our results of operations will not differ materially from these expectations. Factors that could cause actual results to differ from expectations include, among others: our or our partners' ability to develop safe and efficacious products; our or our partners' ability to achieve positive results in clinical trials; our or our partners' ability to obtain marketing approval and market acceptance for our product candidates; our ability to enter into future collaboration and licensing agreements; the impact of competition and technological change; existing and future regulations affecting our business; changes in governmental oversight of pharmaceutical product development; the future scope of our patent coverage or that of third parties; the effects of any future litigation; general economic and business conditions, both internationally and within our industry, including exchange rate variations; and our future financing plans.

-- Ends --

For further information please contact

Nick Miles
Director Communications & Investor Relations
Hirschgässlein 11
CH - 4051 Basel

T +41 (0) 61 206 40 00
D +41 (0) 61 206 40 14
F +41 (0) 61 206 40 01
M +41 (0) 79 446 25 21

Frank LaSaracina
Managing Director
Speedel Pharmaceuticals Inc
1661 Route 22 West
P.O. Box 6532
Bridgewater, NJ 08807
United States of America

T +1 732 537 2290
F +1 732 537 2292
M +1 908 338 0501

[1] Tekturna/ Rasilez ® are Novartis trademarks
[2] HCTZ Hydrochlorothiazide
[3] Tekturna HCT®  is currently pending regulatory, including FDA,
[4] Data on file.(Tekturna-HCT (aliskeren/hydrochlorothiazide)
Combination Tablets Package Insert. March 13, 2007)
[5] Aliskiren reduces blood pressure and suppresses plasma renin
activity in combination with a thiazide diuretic, and
Angiotension-converting Enzyme Inhibitor, or an Angiotensin Recpetor 
Blocker Eoin O'Brien, John Barton, Juerg Nussberger, David Mulcahy,
Chris Jensen, Patrick Dicker, Alice Stanton. Hypertension. 2007,
[6] Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitor
[7] Calcium Channel Blocker
[8] Diovan®  is a Novartis Trademark
[9] Angiotensin Receptor Blocker
[10] Joint National Committee on prevention, detection, evaluation,
and treatment of high blood pressure (US NIH)
[11] Tekturna/ Rasilez ® are Novartis trademarks
[12] Tekturna/Rasilez® are Novartis trademarks

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