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Salix Pharma (SLXP) Anti-Diarrheal Drug For HIV/AIDS Patients Approved By FDA

 December 31, 2012 03:13 PM

(By Balaseshan) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd.'s (NASDAQ: SLXP) anti-diarrheal drug for HIV/AIDS patients.

The FDA approved Fulyzaq (crofelemer) to relieve symptoms of diarrhea in HIV/AIDS patients taking antiretroviral therapy, a combination of medicines used to treat HIV infection. Fulyzaq, which is derived from the red sap of the Croton lechleri plant, is the second botanical prescription drug approved by FDA.

A botanical drug product is often a complex mixture derived from one or more plant materials with varying degrees of purification. In 2006, the FDA approved the first botanical prescription drug, Veregen (sinecatechins), a treatment for external genital and perianal warts.

[Related -Salix Pharmaceuticals, Ltd. (SLXP), Progenics Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (PGNX) Say FDA Committee To Review Relistor sNDA]

Fulyzaq is distributed by Salix Pharmaceuticals based in Raleigh, North Carolina under license from Napo Pharmaceuticals Inc. Veregen is marketed by Florham Park, New Jersey-based PharmaDerm.

Diarrhea is experienced by many HIV/AIDS patients and is a common reason why patients discontinue or switch their antiretroviral therapies. Fulyzaq is intended to be used in HIV/AIDS patients whose diarrhea is not caused by an infection from a virus, bacteria, or parasite.

The safety and efficacy of Fulyzaq were established in a clinical trial of 374 HIV-positive patients on stable antiretroviral therapy with a history of diarrhea lasting one month or longer.

[Related -Salix Pharma (SLXP): FDA Approves Therapy For ART-Related Diarrhea In HIV Positive Patients]

The trial was designed to measure clinical response, defined as the number of patients who had two or fewer watery bowel movements weekly. Results showed that 17.6% of patients taking Fulyzaq experienced clinical response compared with 8% taking placebo. In some patients, a persistent anti-diarrheal effect was seen for 20 weeks.

Common side effects reported in patients taking Fulyzaq in the clinical trial were upper respiratory tract infection, bronchitis, cough, flatulence, and increased levels of the liver enzyme bilirubin.

SLXP is trading up 1.01% at $40.09 on Monday. The stock has been trading between $37.52 and $55.99 for the past 52 weeks.

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