The European Medicines Agency's (EMA's) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has issued a "compassionate use" opinion for Gilead Sciences Inc's antiviral drug sofosbuvir in patients who have chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and who are awaiting a liver transplant or have already received one.
This is the third time the CHMP has used the compassionate use designation for a drug. Set up at the national level, compassionate use programs aim to give patients with life-threatening, chronic, or seriously disabling disease who do not have other treatment options access to drugs that are still under development or consideration and that have not yet been authorized for wider use.
Sofosbuvir, an NS5B polymerase inhibitor, is currently under evaluation by the EMA for wider use in patients with chronic HCV. In the meantime, Sweden had requested a CHMP opinion for use of the antiviral in combination with other agents specifically in patients before or after liver transplantation.
In the United States, sofosbuvir is being discussed today at a US Food and Drug Administration advisory committee hearing for the treatment of chronic HCV infection in combination with other agents in adult patients with genotypes 1 to 6 and/or adult patients awaiting liver transplantation.
HCV infection occurs in 0.4% to 3.5% of the population in different EU member states and is the most common single cause of liver transplantation in the European Union. There is currently no standard therapy for patients with chronic HCV who are awaiting transplantation or who have already received a liver transplant, and there are no approved treatments for most of these patients.
"Many patients with HCV infection in the pre- and post-transplant setting are therefore in urgent medical need of therapy to prevent graft reinfection or to treat recurrent HCV infection in the graft," the EMA said in a statement.
The CHMP opinion is intended to ensure a common approach for member states that are considering setting up a compassionate use program. It is not mandatory. An assessment report and conditions of use of sofosbuvir in this setting will be published shortly on the agency's Web site, the EMA says.
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Cite this: Hepatitis C: CHMP Backs 'Compassionate Use' of Sofosbuvir - Medscape - Oct 25, 2013.