Sanofi, DNDi seek EMA review for sleeping sickness treatment

Fexinidazole would be first all-oral treatment under investigation for both first and second stages of sleeping sickness, a fatal disease, endemic in Africa.

Sanofi has asked the EMA to review fexinidazole for the treatment of sleeping sickness. Fexinidazole is being developed in collaboration with the Drugs for Neglected Disease initiative (DNDi). It would be the first all-oral treatment under investigation for Trypanosoma brucei gambiense human African trypanosomiasis (g-HAT), commonly known as sleeping sickness. It is hoped that this treatment will contribute to the elimination of the disease.

Sanofi, DNDi seek EMA review for sleeping sickness treatment
The tsetse fly - the main vector for sleeping sickness.

EMA has accepted the application under a special procedure called "Article 58" which allows the EMA to give a scientific opinion, in co-operation with the World Health Organization (WHO), for the evaluation of medicinal products that are intended exclusively for markets outside of the European Union. Fexinidazole was previously granted accelerated assessment by the EMA.

"The acceptance by the EMA of the fexinidazole regulatory dossier is a critical step in the registration process," said Dr Nathalie Strub-Wourgaft, DNDi Medical Director. "Results of the Phase II/III clinical trials conducted with our partners in Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic showed the product to be effective and well tolerated."

Following the evaluation of the dossier, the EMA will publish its scientific opinion of the benefit risk of the treatment, which will facilitate the registration of fexinidazole in HAT-endemic countries.

"This milestone is the result of an innovative collaboration between Sanofi and DNDi to address the burden of sleeping sickness," said Dr Ameet Nathwani, Chief Medical Officer, Sanofi. "Fexinidazole is being developed with the goal of addressing all stages of sleeping sickness and simplifying treatment by avoiding systematic hospitalization. It could represent a therapeutic breakthrough foremost for the patients and potentially support elimination efforts as per the WHO 2020 Roadmap."

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