Cempra Inc (NASDAQ: CEMP), announced that the company has received a Complete Response Letter (CRL) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) relating to the company’s new drug applications (NDAs) for oral and intravenous solithromycin for the treatment of community-acquired bacterial pneumonia (CABP) in adults.

The CRL states that the FDA cannot approve the NDAs in their present form and notes that additional clinical safety information and the satisfactory resolution of manufacturing facility inspection deficiencies are required before the NDAs may be approved.

The FDA did not request any further information on solithromycin efficacy for CABP in the CRL.

Based on their review of the NDAs, the CRL stated that the FDA determined the risk of hepatotoxicity had not been adequately characterized. The FDA noted the size of the safety database is limited to 920 patients who received solithromycin at the proposed dose and duration, and is too small to adequately characterize the nature and frequency of serious hepatic adverse effects.

To address this deficiency, the FDA is recommending a comparative study to evaluate the safety of solithromycin in patients with CABP. Specifically, the CRL recommends that Cempra consider a study of approximately 9,000 patients exposed to solithromycin to enable exclusion of serious drug induced liver injury (DILI) events occurring at a rate of approximately 1:3000 with a 95 percent probability.

The CRL noted that while the FDA reserves comment on the proposed labeling until the NDAs are otherwise adequate, even in the absence of a case of Hy’s Law or of another form of serious DILI in future studies, labeling will need to include adequate information about the potential for hepatotoxicity, limiting use to patients who have limited therapeutic options and limitations regarding duration of therapy. A comprehensive plan for post-marketing safety assessment including an enhanced pharmacovigilance program would also be required.

The CRL also stated that during recent inspections of the Wockhardt Limited and Hospira, Inc. manufacturing facilities, the FDA field investigator conveyed deficiencies to representatives of the facilities. Satisfactory resolution of these deficiencies is required prior to approval.  Details on these deficiencies were not provided in the CRL.

Cempra plans to request a meeting with the FDA as soon as possible to discuss the issues identified in the CRL, including the design of the recommended clinical safety study and the steps necessary to resolve the deficiencies noted at Wockhardt and Hospira.  The company also plans to provide the FDA with an update on manufacturing progress at Uquifia, an alternate GMP manufacturing facility for solithromycin active pharmaceutical ingredient (API).

“As the rates of antibiotic resistance continue to rise, there is an unmet medical need for new antibiotics to treat patients with CABP and Cempra is committed to working with the FDA to achieve the approval of solithromycin as quickly as possible,” said David Zaccardelli, Pharm.D. acting chief executive officer of Cempra.

“With more than $225 million of cash on hand, patent protection for solithromycin through 2032 and a pipeline that includes fusidic acid and other potential programs for solithromycin, including an ophthalmic formulation, we have flexibility to determine the best course forward for solithromycin and Cempra,” Zaccardelli added. (Original Source)

Shares of Cempra are currently falling 27.87% to $4.40, or down $1.70 in pre-market trading Thursday. CEMP has a 1-year high of $32 and a 1-year low of $5.70. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $6.79 and its 200-day moving average is $17.13.

On the ratings front, Cempra has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on December 20, Suntrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Edward Nash downgraded CEMP to Sell. Separately, on December 12, Robert W. Baird’s Brian Skorney maintained a Sell rating on the stock and has a price target of $6.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Edward Nash and Brian Skorney have a yearly average return of 2.2% and a loss of -1.8% respectively. Nash has a success rate of 47% and is ranked #1879 out of 4291 analysts, while Skorney has a success rate of 44% and is ranked #3547.

Overall, 3 research analysts have rated the stock with a Sell rating, 6 research analysts have assigned a Hold rating and one research analyst has given a a Buy rating to the stock. When considering if perhaps the stock is under or overvalued, the average price target is $6.50 which is 6.6% above where the stock closed yesterday.

Cempra, Inc. engages as a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company, which focuses on the development of antibacterials to meet critical medical needs. Its antibiotic candidates includs Solithromycin and Taksta.