On 28 October 2009, orphan designation (EU/3/09/683) was granted by the European Commission to Special Products Ltd, United Kingdom, for cholic acid for the treatment of inborn errors in primary bile acid synthesis responsive to treatment with cholic acid. The sponsorship was transferred to FGK Representative Service GmbH, Germany, in December 2011.
- What are inborn errors in primary bile acid synthesis?
Inborn errors in primary bile acid synthesis are a group of diseases in which the liver does not produce (‘synthesise’) enough ‘primary bile acids’. These acids are the main components of the bile, a fluid that helps digestion, and include cholic acid and chenodeoxycholic acid. The lack of bile acids is caused by inborn genetic abnormalities.
Patients lacking primary bile acids produce abnormal bile acids instead. These acids can damage the liver. In some cases, this can lead to liver failure. Not all errors in primary bile acid synthesis can be treated with cholic acid. Therefore, patients with these conditions can be divided into two groups, depending on whether they are responsive to treatment with cholic acid or not.
Inborn errors in primary bile acid synthesis responsive to treatment with cholic acid are a group of long-term debilitating and life-threatening diseases because they can severely damage the liver.
- What is the estimated number of patients affected by the condition?
At the time of designation, inborn errors in primary bile acid synthesis responsive to treatment with cholic acid affected approximately 0.07 in 10,000 people in the European Union (EU)*. This is equivalent to a total of around 4,100 people, and is below the ceiling for orphan designation, which is 5 people in 10,000. This is based on the information provided by the sponsor and the knowledge of the Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products (COMP).
* Disclaimer: For the purpose of the designation, the number of patients affected by the condition is estimated and assessed on the basis of data from the European Union (EU 27), Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. This represents a population of 504,800,000 (Eurostat 2009).
- What treatments are available?
At the time of designation, no satisfactory methods were authorised in the EU for the treatment of inborn errors in primary bile acid synthesis responsive to treatment with cholic acid. Patients with severe liver disease may need a liver transplant. Chenodeoxycholic acid and another bile acid called ursodeoxycholic acid, although authorised for other conditions, were used to treat inborn errors in primary bile acid synthesis.
- How is this medicine expected to work?
Cholic acid is expected to work by replacing some of the missing bile acids in patients with inborn errors in primary bile acid synthesis. This is expected to decrease the production of abnormal bile acids and contribute to the normal activity of bile acids, therefore relieving the symptoms of these diseases.
- What is the stage of development of this medicine?
The sponsor of this application has not conducted any studies with cholic acid. However, it provided the results of studies on the effects of cholic acid in experimental models and of clinical trials from the published literature to support its application for orphan designation.
At the time of submission, cholic acid was not authorised anywhere in the EU for inborn errors in primary bile acid synthesis responsive to treatment with cholic acid. Orphan designation of cholic acid had been granted in the EU and the United States of America for inborn errors in primary bile acid synthesis.
In accordance with Regulation (EC) No 141/2000 of 16 December 1999, the COMP adopted a positive opinion on 2 September 2009 recommending the granting of this designation.
- Opinions on orphan medicinal product designations are based on the following three criteria
- the seriousness of the condition;
- the existence of alternative methods of diagnosis, prevention or treatment;
- either the rarity of the condition (affecting not more than 5 in 10,000 people in the Community) or insufficient returns on investment.
Designated orphan medicinal products are products that are still under investigation and are considered for orphan designation on the basis of potential activity. An orphan designation is not a marketing authorisation. As a consequence, demonstration of quality, safety and efficacy is necessary before a product can be granted a marketing authorisation.
|Name||Language||First published||Last updated|
|EU/3/09/683: Public summary of positive opinion for orphan designation of cholic acid for the treatment of inborn errors in primary bile acid synthesis responsive to treatment with cholic acid||(English only)||17/11/2009||04/01/2012|
|Active substance||Cholic acid|
|Disease/condition||Treatment of inborn errors in primary bile acid synthesis responsive to treatment with cholic acid|
|Date of decision||28/10/2009|
|Orphan decision number||EU/3/09/683|
Review of designation
Sponsor’s contact details:
FGK Representative Service GmbH
Tel: +49 89 89311933
Fax: +49 89 89311920
Patient associations’ contact points:
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.