Aralez Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ARLZ) announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved once-daily YOSPRALA™, the only prescription fixed-dose combination of aspirin, an anti-platelet agent, and omeprazole, a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) in the U.S. YOSPRALA is indicated for patients who require aspirin for secondary prevention of cardiovascular (CV) and cerebrovascular events and who are at risk of developing aspirin associated gastric ulcers. The Company is expanding its U.S. sales force by 85 representatives in September to a total of 110 high quality sales representatives and plans to begin the U.S. promotional launch of YOSPRALA the first week in October.
“Daily aspirin is a standard of care for secondary cardiovascular event prevention, but gastrointestinal symptoms are often cited as the reason patients stop taking this important therapy. Discontinuation of daily aspirin therapy for secondary prevention can pose a significant cardiovascular risk,” said Lori Mosca, M.D., M.P.H, Ph.D., a national expert in cardiovascular disease prevention and education. “Published research shows that patients who have or are at risk of coronary artery disease and discontinue daily aspirin treatment have a three-fold higher risk of a major adverse cardiac event, including death, shortly after stopping therapy. Another study documented that aspirin discontinuation following a gastrointestinal bleed in patients with CV disease increases the risk of a cardiovascular event or death almost 7-fold.”
YOSPRALA is designed to support both cardio- and gastro-protection for at-risk patients through the proprietary Intelli-COAT™ system, which is formulated to sequentially deliver immediate-release omeprazole (40 mg) followed by a delayed-release, enteric-coated aspirin core in either 81 mg or 325 mg dose strengths. The YOSPRALA immediate-release omeprazole is designed to elevate the gastric pH into a gastroprotective zone. The enteric-coated aspirin dissolves after the pH has been elevated to ≥ 5.5, within the gastroprotective zone, thereby reducing stomach ulcer risk.1
“The approval of YOSPRALA marks a major achievement for Aralez and helps address the current public health dilemma around patient discontinuation of daily aspirin therapy, which has potentially serious consequences,” said Adrian Adams, Chief Executive Officer of Aralez. “YOSPRALA is designed to help at-risk patients, who need the cardio-protective benefits of daily aspirin, stay on their important treatment while reducing the risk of developing gastric ulcers. We believe YOSPRALA represents an important new therapeutic option for this group of patients and healthcare providers who strive to improve patient adherence to daily aspirin therapy. Access to preventive care is critical and as such we will implement a responsible pricing strategy that is designed to remove access barriers to YOSPRALA by instituting an affordable patient copay of less than a dollar per day for most patients. The approval of YOSPRALA together with the recent acquisition of ZONTIVITY®, a revenue generating oral anti-platelet product that represents an excellent strategic fit with YOSPRALA, underscores the continued execution of our corporate growth strategy designed to build Aralez organically and through seizing high potential opportunities through aggressive business development and licensing.”
Aspirin is the “Gold Standard” for Secondary Prevention
Up to an estimated 26.2 million adults in the U.S. are at risk for secondary CV events. The occurrence of secondary CV events among people with heart disease continues to be a significant problem in the U.S. Patients who have experienced a heart attack have an elevated CV risk within the first six years2 of that first event, equating to an estimated 200,000 Americans a year who go on to have a second heart attack.3
Recent guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association affirm the importance of daily aspirin therapy. Daily aspirin therapy, however, can cause gastrointestinal symptoms and damage, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastric ulcers and even gastrointestinal bleeding, through both direct and indirect mechanisms.
A 2008 Expert Consensus Task Force specifically examined ways to reduce the gastrointestinal risks of antiplatelet therapy and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) use including aspirin. The findings included data which demonstrated that gastrointestinal risk may occur regardless of aspirin dose or formulation, meaning low-dose, buffered and enteric-coated aspirin preparations may not be gastrointestinal protective. The Task Force also devised an algorithm for the prevention and treatment of aspirin and NSAID-related gastroduodenal injury. PPI therapy is believed to reduce the risk in all patients and was a proposed strategy for gastroprotection.4
“In the randomized controlled trials, YOSPRALA outperformed enteric-coated aspirin in terms of the primary endpoint, reduction in gastric ulceration, with higher adherence in patients at higher risk for aspirin-associated gastric ulcerations, a secondary endpoint,” said Dr. David J. Whellan, the first author of the publication and the James C. Wilson Professor of Medicine, Sidney Kimmel Medical College. “We know that over one third of patients who should be taking aspirin for secondary prevention discontinue aspirin due in part to gastrointestinal symptoms and that this discontinuation increases the risk of death and recurrent heart attacks.” (Original Source)
Shares of Aralez Pharmaceuticals are currently halted. ARLZ has a 1-year high of $6.80 and a 1-year low of $3.10. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $4.83 and its 200-day moving average is $4.18.
On the ratings front, ARLZ stock has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on August 15, Guggenheim analyst Louise Chen reiterated a Buy rating on ARLZ. Separately, on August 10, Chardan’s Keay Nakae reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $10.
According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Louise Chen and Keay Nakae have a total average return of -10.5% and -20.5% respectively. Chen has a success rate of 40% and is ranked #3942 out of 4151 analysts, while Nakae has a success rate of 37% and is ranked #3964.
Aralez Pharmaceuticals, Inc. operates as a pharmaceutical company. The company focuses on developing cardiovascular and pain therapies. Aralez Pharmaceuticals is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada.