LONDON and RALEIGH, N.C., April 23, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Verona Pharma plc (Nasdaq: VRNA) (“Verona Pharma”), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on respiratory diseases, announces data from a pilot study of a pressurized metered-dose inhaler (“pMDI”) formulation of ensifentrine showed that ensifentrine was safe and well tolerated in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The trial was not designed or sized to demonstrate clinical efficacy and no clinical efficacy benefit with ensifentrine treatment added on to standard of care was observed in the trial. One patient death was reported in the ensifentrine treatment group.
“Overall, the patients in this study recovered exceptionally well, as the mortality rate in the study was much lower than aggregate data from the hospital would have suggested over the same time period,” commented Mike Wells, MD, a pulmonologist and Principal Investigator at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital.
Ensifentrine is a first-in-class product candidate with both bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory activities in one compound, currently in Phase 3 clinical development for the treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (“COPD”). Clinical data from studies of ensifentrine in the treatment of other respiratory diseases have shown ensifentrine improved lung function, reduced inflammation in the lungs* and reduced symptoms of cough and sputum production. Ensifentrine has been well tolerated in clinical trials involving more than 1,300 people.
The study was a double-blind, placebo controlled, unpowered pilot study designed to evaluate inhaled ensifentrine on key outcomes in patients with COVID-19 when added on to standard of care therapies, which included remdesivir and dexamethasone. The study randomized 30 patients to receive ensifentrine and 15 to placebo.
- Patient Population: 45 hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Single center study at University of Alabama at Birmingham.
- Dose/Duration: patients randomized to receive 2 mg of pMDI ensifentrine or placebo, twice-daily for up to 29 days or until discharge if this occurred before 29 days. The clinical status of all patients was evaluated daily until discharge and at Day 29 and Day 60.
- Primary endpoint: proportion of patients recovered (not hospitalized) from COVID-19 over 29 days.
- Other endpoints included: safety and tolerability, time to recovery, proportion of patients with 1- and 2-point improvement on an ordinal scale, proportion of patients progressing to mechanical ventilation, duration of hospitalization, duration and incidence of oxygen use, re-hospitalization, and mortality.
Further information about this study can be found at www.clinicaltrials.gov, NCT04527471.
*Franciosi LG, et al., Lancet Respir Med 2013
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Ensifentrine (RPL554) is an investigational, first-in-class, inhaled, dual inhibitor of the enzymes phosphodiesterase 3 and 4 (“PDE3” and “PDE4”). This dual inhibition enables it to combine both bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory effects in one compound. Ensifentrine also activates the Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (“CFTR”), which is beneficial in reducing mucous viscosity and improving mucociliary clearance. Ensifentrine’s mechanism of action has the potential to alleviate respiratory symptoms such as breathlessness and cough and work against inflammation associated with COPD or inflammation triggered by viruses.
Ensifentrine has demonstrated significant and clinically meaningful improvements in both lung function and symptoms, including breathlessness, in Verona Pharma’s Phase 2 clinical studies in patients with moderate to severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (“COPD”). In addition, nebulized ensifentrine showed further improved lung function and reduced lung volumes in COPD patients taking standard short- and long-acting bronchodilator therapy, including maximum bronchodilator treatment with dual/triple therapy. Ensifentrine has been well tolerated in clinical trials involving more than 1,300 subjects to date.
About Verona Pharma
Verona Pharma is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing innovative therapies for the treatment of respiratory diseases with significant unmet medical needs. If successfully developed and approved, Verona Pharma’s product candidate, ensifentrine, has the potential to be the first therapy for the treatment of respiratory diseases that combines bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory activities in one compound. The Company is evaluating nebulized ensifentrine in its Phase 3 clinical program ENHANCE (“Ensifentrine as a Novel inHAled Nebulized COPD thErapy”) for COPD maintenance treatment. Two additional formulations of ensifentrine are in Phase 2 development for the treatment of COPD: dry powder inhaler (“DPI”) and pressurized metered-dose inhaler (“pMDI”). Ensifentrine has potential applications in cystic fibrosis, asthma and other respiratory diseases. For more information, please visit www.veronapharma.com.
This press release, operational review, outlook and financial review contain forward-looking statements. All statements contained in this press release with respect to our operational review, outlook and financial review that do not relate to matters of historical fact should be considered forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, statements regarding the development of ensifentrine and the progress and timing of clinical trials and data, the goals and design of clinical trials, the potential for ensifentrine to be a first-in-class phosphodiesterase 3 and 4 inhibitor and to be the first therapy for the treatment of respiratory diseases to combine bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory effects in one compound, the potential of ensifentrine to alleviate respiratory symptoms such as breathlessness and cough and work against inflammation associated with COPD or inflammation triggered by viruses, and the potential applications of ensifentrine in the treatment of COPD, cystic fibrosis, asthma and other respiratory diseases.
These forward-looking statements are based on management’s current expectations. These statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from our expectations expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, the following: our limited operating history; our need for additional funding to complete development and commercialization of ensifentrine, which may not be available and which may force us to delay, reduce or eliminate our development or commercialization efforts; the reliance of our business on the success of ensifentrine, our only product candidate under development; economic, political, regulatory and other risks involved with international operations; the lengthy and expensive process of clinical drug development, which has an uncertain outcome; serious adverse, undesirable or unacceptable side effects associated with ensifentrine, which could adversely affect our ability to develop or commercialize ensifentrine; potential delays in enrolling patients, which could adversely affect our research and development efforts and the completion of our clinical trials; we may not be successful in developing ensifentrine for multiple indications; our ability to obtain approval for and commercialize ensifentrine in multiple major pharmaceutical markets; misconduct or other improper activities by our employees, consultants, principal investigators, and third-party service providers; our future growth and ability to compete depends on retaining our key personnel and recruiting additional qualified personnel; material differences between our “top-line” data and final data; our reliance on third parties, including clinical research organizations, clinical investigators, manufacturers and suppliers, and the risks related to these parties’ ability to successfully develop and commercialize ensifentrine; and lawsuits related to patents covering ensifentrine and the potential for our patents to be found invalid or unenforceable; changes in our tax rates, unavailability of certain tax credits or reliefs or exposure to additional tax liabilities or assessments could affect our profitability, and audits by tax authorities could result in additional tax payments for prior periods; and our vulnerability to natural disasters, global economic factors and other unexpected events, including health epidemics or pandemics like the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which has and may continue to adversely impact our business. These and other important factors under the caption “Risk Factors” in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020, and our other reports filed with the SEC, could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements made in this press release. Any such forward-looking statements represent management’s estimates as of the date of this press release. While we may elect to update such forward-looking statements at some point in the future, we disclaim any obligation to do so, even if subsequent events cause our views to change. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing our views as of any date subsequent to the date of this press release.