[Pseudo-Cushing’s] Michigan woman nearly dies after herbal supplement found to be laced with steroids

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WXYZ) – Since 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received more than 26,000 reports of adverse events and complaints about dietary supplements.

Jody Higgins of Madison Heights, Michigan made one of those complaints to the FDA, after she says she found out the herbs she had been taking were making her seriously ill.

“I really thought I was going to die I was getting so sick,” Higgins said.

Back in 2015, Higgins says her legs started hurting.  She says she didn’t have great health insurance, and she was hoping for a more holistic approach, so a friend referred her to Far East Ginseng Herbs and Tea in nearby Sterling Heights.

“They suggested that I take something that was called Linsen Double Caulis. I had never heard of it before, and it appeared to have all herbs on the label,” Higgins said.

Higgins says for a while, she felt better, and when she stopped taking the Linsen Double Caulis, the leg pain returned. So, she says she kept taking it for nearly a year, even though she started noticing strange symptoms.

“Within four months I had gained 80 pounds,” she said.

She suddenly had facial hair growth, severe facial swelling, extremely swollen ankles, and had dark purple stretch marks all over her body.

“I wasn’t recognizable,” said Higgins.  “I couldn’t stand for longer than 2 minutes. I couldn’t cook. I couldn’t wash my clothing. I could barely get in the shower.”

After visiting several doctors, Higgins was eventually referred to University of Michigan Endocrinologist Dr. Ariel Barkan.

“The minute that I said I had been taking a Chinese herbal remedy, he said ‘you’ve been poisoned. I know it.’ Those were his exact words,” said Higgins.

“Her situation was pretty shaky,” Barkan said.

Barkan sent the Linsin Double Caulis herbal supplement to the Mayo Clinic for testing.

“They were loaded with Dexamethasone … [which] is a medication.  It’s a synthetic steroid, very potent, very long acting, and if we take it for quite some time, we develop what is called Cushing Syndrome,” said Dr. Barkan.

Higgins was diagnosed with Cushing Syndrome, and Barkan says she could have died if she hadn’t sought help.

“The mortality for untreated Cushing Syndrome is 50% within 5 years,” said Barkan.  “ … immunity is completely suppressed. And when you don’t have immunity, the first virus, the first germ may cause [a] fatal infection and you will die.”

Higgins says once she stopped taking the Linsen Double Caulis, the facial hair went away, but she’s still struggling with her weight. Barkan says her health should improve, although it will take time.

Both doctor and patient say they have contacted the FDA about this, and they each have a warning about taking herbal supplements.

“Please just be very cautious,” Higgins said.

“Don’t touch it. Don’t touch it, you’re playing Russian roulette,” said Barkan.

Jody Higgins says she met with an investigator from the FDA’s criminal division.

An FDA spokesperson would only say that they do not discuss possible or ongoing investigations.

The lawyer for the store where Higgins says she purchased the supplement told us the owners will not be commenting on, but the owner did say they no longer sell this product.

From http://www.fox4now.com/news/national/madison-heights-woman-herbal-supplement-caused-life-threatening-illness

NDA for Macrilen™ for the Evaluation of Growth Hormone Deficiency in Adults

CHARLESTON, S.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ: AEZS)(TSX: AEZS) (the “Company”) today announced that it has been notified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), that the Company’s New Drug Application (“NDA”) seeking approval of Macrilen™ (macimorelin) for the evaluation of growth hormone deficiency in adults (“AGHD”) has been accepted as a complete response to the FDA’s November 5, 2014 Complete Response Letter and granted a PDUFA date of December 30, 2017.

David A. Dodd, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company stated, “We are pleased that the FDA has formally accepted our resubmitted NDA and that it is under active review with an end-of-year PDUFA date. We remain confident that the FDA will approve our NDA and, therefore, we are moving forward with our preparations to launch the product in the first quarter of 2018.”

The Company also announces that Mr. Kenneth Newport is no longer a member of the Board of Directors effective as of July 12, 2017.

About MacrilenTM (macimorelin)

Macimorelin, a ghrelin agonist, is an orally-active small molecule that stimulates the secretion of growth hormone. Macimorelin has been granted orphan drug designation by the FDA for diagnosis of AGHD. The Company owns the worldwide rights to this patented compound and has significant patent protection left. The Company’s U.S. composition of matter patent expires in 2022 and its U.S. utility patent runs through 2027. The Company proposes, subject to FDA approval, to market macimorelin under the tradename Macrilen™.

About AGHD

AGHD affects approximately 75,000 adults across the U.S., Canada and Europe. Growth hormone not only plays an important role in growth from childhood to adulthood, but also helps promote a hormonally-balanced health status. AGHD mostly results from damage to the pituitary gland. It is usually characterized by a reduction in bone mineral density, lean body mass, exercise capacity, and overall quality of life as well as an increase of cardiovascular risks.

About Aeterna Zentaris Inc.

Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty biopharmaceutical company engaged in developing and commercializing novel pharmaceutical therapies. We are engaged in drug development activities and in the promotion of products for others. We recently completed Phase 3 studies of two internally developed compounds. The focus of our business development efforts is the acquisition of licenses to products that are relevant to our therapeutic areas of focus. We also intend to license out certain commercial rights of internally developed products to licensees in non-U.S. territories where such out-licensing would enable us to ensure development, registration and launch of our product candidates. Our goal is to become a growth-oriented specialty biopharmaceutical company by pursuing successful development and commercialization of our product portfolio, achieving successful commercial presence and growth, while consistently delivering value to our shareholders, employees and the medical providers and patients who will benefit from our products. For more information, visit www.aezsinc.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provision of the U.S. Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which reflect our current expectations regarding future events. Forward-looking statements may include, but are not limited to statements preceded by, followed by, or that include the words “expects,” “believes,” “intends,” “anticipates,” and similar terms that relate to future events, performance, or our results. Forward-looking statements involve known risks and uncertainties, many of which are discussed under the caption “Key Information – Risk Factors” in our most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the relevant Canadian securities regulatory authorities in lieu of an annual information form and with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Such statements include, but are not limited to, statements about the progress of our research, development and clinical trials and the timing of, and prospects for, regulatory approval and commercialization of our product candidates, the timing of expected results of our studies, anticipated results of these studies, statements about the status of our efforts to establish a commercial operation and to obtain the right to promote or sell products that we did not develop and estimates regarding our capital requirements and our needs for, and our ability to obtain, additional financing. Known and unknown risks and uncertainties could cause our actual results to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, among others, the availability of funds and resources to pursue our research and development projects and clinical trials, the successful and timely completion of clinical studies, the risk that safety and efficacy data from any of our Phase 3 trials may not coincide with the data analyses from previously reported Phase 1 and/or Phase 2 clinical trials, the rejection or non-acceptance of any new drug application by one or more regulatory authorities and, more generally, uncertainties related to the regulatory process (including whether or not the regulatory authorities will definitively accept the Company’s conclusions regarding Macrilen™ and approve its registration following the Company’s re-submission of an NDA for the product as described elsewhere in this press release), the ability of the Company to efficiently commercialize one or more of its products or product candidates, the degree of market acceptance once our products are approved for commercialization, our ability to take advantage of business opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry, our ability to protect our intellectual property, and the potential of liability arising from shareholder lawsuits and general changes in economic conditions. Investors should consult the Company’s quarterly and annual filings with the Canadian securities commissions and the SEC for additional information on risks and uncertainties. Given these uncertainties and risk factors, readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. We disclaim any obligation to update any such factors or to publicly announce any revisions to any of the forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect future results, events or developments, unless required to do so by a governmental authority or applicable law.

Contacts

Aeterna Zentaris Inc.
Philip A. Theodore, 843-900-3211
Senior Vice President
ir@aezsinc.com

From http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170718006321/en/NDA-Macrilen%E2%84%A2-Evaluation-Growth-Hormone-Deficiency-Adults

RDLA’s May Legislative In-Person Meeting

RDLA Congressional Caucus

 

Rare Disease Legislative Advocates in coordination with Rare Disease Congressional Caucus Co-Chairs: Representative Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Representative Joe Crowley (D-NY), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); and the Office of Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) will host a briefing on:

 The NIH and FDA: Vital Agencies in the Fight Against Rare Diseases

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Senate Capitol Visitors Center Room 201, Washington, D.C., 20004

   REGISTER   

Moderator:  Ellie Dehoney, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, Research!America

  • The Undiagnosed Disease Program at the NIH
    • William Gahl, M.D., Ph.D, Clinical Director, National Human Genome Research Institute (invited)
  • Precision Medicine – The White House & the NIH
    • Matthew Might, Strategist, Executive Office of the President, The White House, Associate Professor, University of Utah, Associate Professor, Visiting, Harvard Medical School, Founder, NGLY1.org (invited)
  • The Value of Patients to Clinical Innovation at the NIH
    • Kayla Martinez & Dorelia Rivera, NOMID Patient
  • The Role of NIH Funding in Kickstarting Biomedical Innovation
    • Christopher C. Gibson, Ph.D, Co-Founder & CEO, Recursion Pharmaceuticals

Come and enjoy an array of refreshments  or have coffee and snack break while learning about the role of our health agencies.

Cortendo gains $11M for late-stage Cushing’s study

Cortendo is coming to America. Founded in Sweden, the little biotech has a new CEO who’s building the executive team in the Philadelphia area. And he’s dropping plans for a listing on the Oslo exchange in favor of a U.S. IPO after raising $11 million in bridge financing.

Cortendo CEO Matthew Pauls

The big idea at Cortendo is to take an existing drug–ketoconazole, which is used off-label for Cushing’s disease–and tinker with it to make it safer and more effective. HealthCap, the Third Swedish National Pension Fund (“AP3”), Storebrand and Arctic Fund Management are putting up the venture round. And their money is funding an on-going Phase III study designed to make their case with the FDA.

“It is a nice bridge to the U.S. which also allows us from funding perspective to drive that critically important Phase III to closure,” says CEO Matthew Pauls, an ex-Shire ($SHPG) and Insmed exec from the commercial side of the industry who joined the company a couple of months ago.

Cushing’s is characterized by elevated levels of cortisol, which trigger a host of serious and potentially lethal side effects. The new drug–dubbed COR-003–is designed to hit key enzymes in the cortisol synthesis pathway, using a more targeted segment of ketoconazole.

“We took basically the better half of the molecule and are using it explicitly for Cushing’s syndrome,” says the CEO. Now Cortendo–which is run by a core team of 6, which Pauls plans to expand–will drive for final late-stage data in 2017, setting up a prospective application with the FDA that could allow the company to proceed with plans to create its own commercial operations.

There are about 20,000 to 25,000 Cushing’s patients in the U.S., adds Pauls, with maybe 30,000 to 40,000 in Europe. About half of those patients can expect surgery to address the disease, with the rest candidates for medicinal therapies.

The U.S. represents the company’s largest market opportunity, says Pauls. So it makes sense to drop the Oslo listing in favor of a U.S. exchange. Exactly when that filing could come and where, he adds, hasn’t been determined yet.

– here’s the release

From http://www.fiercebiotech.com/story/little-cortendo-gains-11m-late-stage-cushings-study-hatches-us-ipo-plans/2014-10-30

Mifepristone in children with refractory Cushing’s disease

Introduction

This study is being done to examine the effects of a medication called mifepristone in children with Cushing’s disease. This medication has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in adult patients with Cushing’s syndrome. It is not FDA approved for use in children.

The study will investigate how children’s bodies absorb and process mifepristone, how it works in children and what effect it has on the use of sugar in the body, on the child’s weight and on growth hormone. An important part of the study is to determine the proper dosing and to evaluate the side effects of mifepristone in children.

Children 6 to 17 years old will be enrolled in the study if they have had surgery for Cushing’s disease and currently have elevated cortisol levels.

To get started, please click here.

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