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Orphan designation

On 10 July 2007, orphan designation (EU/3/07/459) was granted by the European Commission to Bioprojet, France, for 1-{3-[3-(4-chlorophenyl)propoxy]propyl}piperidine, hydrochloride for the treatment of narcolepsy.

What is Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is characterised by excessive daytime sleepiness (patients have an irresistible urge to sleep, even in inappropriate times and places), and often have disturbed night sleep with very vivid dreams. In addition, some of the patients experience sudden episodes of severe muscle weakness (called cataplexy), potentially causing dangerous falls. Narcolepsy symptoms can be very severe and damage significantly both the private and professional life of the patients. Cataplexy can increase the risk of accidents, including car accidents. It can occur so suddenly that the patient does not have time to prepare and avoid falls or sudden attacks of sleep urge, for example.

What are the methods of treatment available?

Several products to treat the symptoms of narcolepsy were authorised in the Community at the time of submission of the application for orphan drug designation. 1-{3-[3-(4-chlorophenyl)propoxy]propyl}piperidine may be of potential significant benefit in patients affected by narcolepsy. This will have to be confirmed at the time of marketing authorisation. This will be necessary to maintain the orphan status.

What is the estimated number of patients affected by the condition*?

According to the information provided by the sponsor, narcolepsy was considered to affect not more than 230,000 persons in the European Union.

* Disclaimer: For the purpose of the designation, the number of patients affected by the condition is estimated and assessed based on data from the European Union (EU 25), Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. This represents a population of 459,700,000 (Eurostat 2004). This estimate is based on available information and calculations presented by the sponsor at the time of the application.

How is this medicinal product expected to act?

The mechanism of action of 1-{3-[3-(4-chlorophenyl)propoxy]propyl}piperidine in narcolepsy is not fully understood. It may involve regulation of neurotrasnmitters, which are chemical substances produced in the brain and used by brain cells to communicate between themselves, and this may improve the night sleep and indirectly decrease also the daytime symptoms.

What is the stage of development of this medicinal product?

The effects of 1-{3-[3-(4-chlorophenyl)propoxy]propyl}piperidine were evaluated in experimental models. 

At the time of submission of the application for orphan designation, clinical trials in patients with narcolepsy were ongoing.

1-{3-[3-(4-chlorophenyl)propoxy]propyl}piperidine was not authorised anywhere worldwide for narcolepsy or designated as orphan medicinal product elsewhere for this condition, at the time of submission.

According to Regulation (EC) No 141/2000 of 16 December 1999, the Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products (COMP) adopted on 31 May 2007 a positive opinion recommending the grant of the above-mentioned designation.

Opinions on orphan medicinal products designations are based on the following cumulative criteria:
  • the seriousness of the condition,
  • the existence or not of alternative methods of diagnosis, prevention or treatment and 
  • either the rarity of the condition (considered to affect not more than five in ten thousand persons in the Community) or the insufficient return of development investments.

Designated orphan medicinal products are still investigational products which were considered for designation on the basis of potential activity. An orphan designation is not a marketing authorisation. As a consequence, demonstration of the quality, safety and efficacy will be necessary before this product can be granted a marketing authorisation.

Key facts

Product details for <p>1-{3-[3-(4-Chlorophenyl)propoxy]propyl}piperidine, hydrochloride</p>
Active substance1-{3-[3-(4-Chlorophenyl)propoxy]propyl}piperidine, hydrochloride
Medicine Name
Disease/conditionTreatment of narcolepsy
Date of decision10/07/2007
Orphan decision numberEU/3/07/459

Review of designation

Related information

Sponsor’s contact details

9 rue Rameau
75002 Paris
Tel. + 33 1 47036633
Fax + 33 1 470 366 30

Patients' organisations

For contact details of patients’ organisations whose activities are targeted at rare diseases, see:

  • Orphanet, a database containing information on rare diseases, which includes a directory of patients’ organisations registered in Europe;
  • European Organisation for Rare Diseases (EURORDIS), a non-governmental alliance of patient organisations and individuals active in the field of rare diseases.