On 5 August 2011, orphan designation (EU/3/11/887) was granted by the European Commission to Cres Pharmaceuticals Limited, United Kingdom, for N-(cyanomethyl)-4-(2-{[4-(morpholin-4-yl)phenyl]amino}pyrimidin-4-yl)benzamide, dihydrochloride salt for the treatment of post-essential thrombocythaemia myelofibrosis.

Myelofibrosis is a disease in which the bone marrow (the spongy tissue inside the large bones) becomes dense and fibrous, and starts producing abnormal immature blood cells that replace the normal blood cells. It can develop following thrombocythaemia (overproduction of platelets, components that help the blood to clot). When the thrombocythaemia is not caused by any known condition, the disease is known as post-essential thrombocythaemia myelofibrosis.

In myelofibrosis, some immature blood cells migrate from the bone marrow to other organs, such as the spleen and liver, where they mature. This causes the organs to become enlarged. Patients with myelofibrosis can develop several symptoms, including bone pain, fever, tiredness, weakness, weight loss, infections and bleeding.

Post-essential thrombocythaemia myelofibrosis is a debilitating disease that is long-lasting and life-threatening because it can lead to severe anaemia (low red-blood-cell counts) and infections, and can result in leukaemia (cancer of the white blood cells).

At the time of designation, post-essential thrombocythaemia myelofibrosis affected less than 0.15 in 10,000 people in the European Union (EU)*. This is equivalent to a total of fewer than 8,000 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. At the time of designation, this represented a population of 507,700,000 (Eurostat 2011).

At the time of designation, although hydroxycarbamide and busulfan were authorised in the EU for primary myelofibrosis (myelofibrosis of unknown cause), there were no treatments authorised specifically for post-essential thrombocythaemia myelofibrosis. Medicines were authorised to treat the symptoms, including erythropoietin (a hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells) to treat anaemia, and surgery or radiation to remove or shrink the enlarged spleen. In some patients, allogeneic stem-cell transplantation was used to treat the disease. This is a complex procedure where the patient receives stem cells from a matched donor to help restore the bone marrow.

This medicine is thought to work by blocking some enzymes known as Janus kinases (JAKs). These enzymes can be found in some receptors on the surface of cells and are involved in the reproduction and growth of blood cells. In myelofibrosis, JAKs are more active than normal. By blocking these enzymes, this medicine is expected to slow down the abnormal growth of blood cells, reducing the symptoms of the disease.

The effects of N-(cyanomethyl)-4-(2-{[4-(morpholin-4-yl)phenyl]amino}pyrimidin-4-yl)benzamide, dihydrochloride salt have been evaluated in experimental models.

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

At the time of submission, this medicine was not authorised anywhere in the EU for post-essential thrombocythaemia myelofibrosis. Orphan designation of the medicine had been granted in the United States for myelofibrosis.

In accordance with Regulation (EC) No 141/2000 of 16 December 1999, the COMP adopted a positive opinion on 5 May 2011 recommending the granting of this designation.

  • 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 EU) 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.

Key facts

Active substance
N-(cyanomethyl)-4-(2-{[4-(morpholin-4-yl)phenyl]amino}pyrimidin-4-yl)benzamide, dihydrochloride salt (momelotinib)
Intended use
Treatment of post-essential thrombocythaemia myelofibrosis
Orphan designation status
EU designation number
Date of designation

GlaxoSmithKline Trading Services Limited
Riverwalk 12
Citywest Business Campus
Dublin 24
D24 YK11
Email: customercontactuk@gsk.com

Review of designation

The Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products reviews the orphan designation of a product if it is approved for marketing authorisation.

Update history

September 2022The sponsorship was transferred to GlaxoSmithKline Trading Services Limited, Ireland.
February 2019The sponsorship was transferred to Dlrc Pharma Services Limited, Ireland.
May 2013The sponsorship was transferred to Gilead Sciences International Ltd, United Kingdom.
February 2012The sponsorship was transferred to YM BioSciences (UK) Limited, United Kingdom.

EMA list of opinions on orphan medicinal product designation

EMA publishes information on orphan medicinal product designation adopted by the Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products (COMP) on the IRIS online platform:

Patients' organisations

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

  • European Organisation for Rare Diseases (EURORDIS), a non-governmental alliance of patient organisations and individuals active in the field of rare diseases.

  • Orphanet, a database containing information on rare diseases, which includes a directory of patients’ organisations registered in Europe.

EU register of orphan medicines

The list of medicines that have received an orphan designation in the EU is available on the European Commission's website:

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