29 September 2015

Positive headline data from RPL554 study

VERONA PHARMA PLC - Positive headline data from RPL554 study

PR Newswire

Verona Pharma plc

("Verona Pharma" or the "Company")

 Positive headline data from RPL554 clinical study in COPD patients

New suspension formulation is well tolerated; results signal marked improvement in lung function 

RPL554 remains on track for entry into Phase IIb clinical trials in 2H 2016

29 September 2015, Cardiff – Verona Pharma plc (AIM: VRP.L), the drug development company focused on first-in-class medicines to treat respiratory diseases, today announces encouraging positive headline data of the third and final part (part C) of a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled Single Ascending Dose (SAD) / Multiple Ascending Dose (MAD) clinical study in stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. This study uses a new proprietary and commercially scalable nebulised suspension formulation of the Company’s lead pipeline drug, RPL554.1,2 The primary objective of this part of the study was to show the safety and tolerability of the new drug formulation in stable COPD patients with moderate severity of disease.3 Measurement of lung function using FEV14 was included. Evaluation of the full data set is ongoing and will be presented in an appropriate scientific, peer-reviewed forum at a later date.

Highlights: Part C of study in 32 stable COPD patients with moderate disease severity3

  • Primary objective of study met: Drug formulation well tolerated at all dose levels; No serious adverse events reported
    • Adverse event profile similar to that seen with placebo
    • Absence of gastro-intestinal or cardiovascular adverse events
  • RPL554 caused pronounced improvement in lung function
    • Mean peak FEV1 increase ranged from 199ml to 257ml versus placebo
    • Extent of bronchodilation exceeds that seen in earlier studies with original proof of concept formulation
  • Data continue to support twice daily dosing regimen with RPL554
  • Data consistent with that from earlier part A and B of study in healthy volunteers
    • Evaluation of the full data set from this trial is ongoing

In the third part of the trial, nebulised RPL554, a novel dual PDE3/PDE4 inhibitor, was administered twice daily using a new proprietary, commercially scalable, suspension formulation to stable COPD patients with moderate disease severity for up to five-and-a-half consecutive days at doses significantly in excess of the previously used active dose. Patients withheld their regular bronchodilator therapy for the duration of the treatment phase of the study.

The study met its primary objective and all doses of RPL554 were found to be well tolerated. As with earlier parts of the trial, which were conducted in healthy volunteers, there were no reports of serious adverse events and the adverse event profile was similar to that seen with placebo. In particular, there was an absence of gastro-intestinal or cardiovascular adverse events.

Lung function, as measured by peak FEV1, was increased in all dose groups and ranged between 199-257ml over placebo suggesting a clinically meaningful bronchodilator effect which will be confirmed in Phase IIb studies. In the highest dose there was a small increase in heart rate as might be expected from the pharmacology of the product.

The new commercially scalable formulation of RPL554 results in a uniform suspension of RPL554 and was designed to provide improved tolerability, allowing higher doses of RPL554 to be inhaled, yielding an optimised bronchodilator effect than with the previous prototype, solution formulation. Additionally the new formulation offers potential for improvements in convenience and compliance. Data to date supports this profile, suggesting a twice daily dosing regimen and is consistent with a longer residence time of the drug in lung tissue and slower release into the blood than with the original formulation. In addition, the commercial viability of the new formulation is underlined by significantly improved stability compared to the previous formulation.

Professor Dave Singh of the Medicines Evaluation Unit, University of Manchester, lead investigator on this study, commented:  “I am very encouraged by the headline results of this study using the new suspension formulation of RPL554. The marked improvement in lung function seen in this initial small study shows that this product has potential to be a meaningful addition to existing treatment options for COPD.”

Dr. Jan-Anders Karlsson, Chief Executive of Verona Pharma, said:  “We are excited by the robust and consistent results arising from our SAD/MAD study of RPL554 in both healthy volunteers and now, stable COPD patients with moderate disease severity. The data demonstrates that, as designed, the new commercially scalable, suspension formulation is well tolerated and has allowed us to extend the dose range and the duration of bronchodilation effect that can be produced in COPD patients. We will now fully analyse the data from this trial. While we need to discuss these results and confirm our further development plans for the drug with the appropriate regulatory authorities, we currently expect to begin Phase IIb studies in the second half of 2016.”

RPL554 is currently in development as a nebulised treatment for acute exacerbations in COPD patients in a hospital or home-care setting. The nebuliser bronchodilator market was worth about $1 billion in 2014 in the US.5 RPL554 also has potential as a novel drug for the maintenance therapy of COPD, for patients with asthma and cystic fibrosis.

Phase I and Phase II studies with RPL554 in the previous nebulised solution formulation were successfully conducted in over 100 subjects.6 Results collectively showed that the drug is a very potent bronchodilator with the ability to elicit a unique anti-inflammatory response. In these initial studies, patients treated with RPL554 had an adverse event profile which was similar to that in patients treated with placebo. The original nebulised formulation of the drug used in these studies was devised to provide proof-of-concept data, before the development of a new formulation suitable for commercial scale-up.


For further information please contact:

Verona Pharma plc Tel: +44 (0)20 3283 4200
Jan-Anders Karlsson, Chief Executive Officer  
N+1 Singer Tel: +44 (0)20 7496 3000
Aubrey Powell / Jen Boorer  
FTI Consulting Tel: +44 (0)20 3727 1000
Julia Phillips / Simon Conway  

Notes to Editors

About Verona Pharma plc

Verona Pharma plc is a UK-based clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of innovative prescription medicines to treat respiratory diseases with significant unmet medical needs, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and cystic fibrosis.

Verona Pharma's lead drug, RPL554, is a first-in-class drug currently in Phase II trials as a nebulised treatment for acute exacerbations of COPD in the hospital setting.  The drug is a dual phosphodiesterase (PDE) 3/4 inhibitor and therefore has both bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory effects, which are essential to the improvement of patients with COPD and asthma.

Verona Pharma is also building a broader portfolio of RPL554-containing products to maximise its benefit to patients and its value.  This includes the very significant markets for COPD and asthma maintenance therapy.  The Company is also exploring the potential of the drug in different diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, where it is in pre-clinical testing and has recently received a Venture and Innovation Award from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

About The Medicines Evaluation Unit (“MEU”)

The Medicines Evaluation Unit is one of the UK's leading contract research organisations, working in collaboration with the University Hospital of South Manchester. The MEU specialises in performing clinical trials (from Phase I through to IV) in respiratory/inflammatory medicine and related areas. The MEU has an outstanding reputation for performing high quality clinical research complying with UK Clinical Trials legislation and EU Directives and holds MHRA Phase I accreditation.

About Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Sixty-five million people worldwide suffer from moderate to severe COPD and the World Health Organisation (WHO) expects COPD to be the third leading cause of death globally by 2020.  It is the only major chronic disease with increasing mortality.  Currently available drugs are aimed at long-term maintenance therapy, with the market dominated by large pharma.  Despite the wide availability of these therapies, COPD patients suffer acute periods of worsening symptoms (exacerbations), which cause, in the US alone, some 1.5 million A&E visits, 726,000 hospitalisations and 120,000 deaths per annum.


1 See www.clinicaltrials.gov - ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier:NCT02307162

2 Initial data from Part A and B for this trial were reported in Company press releases dated 23 March 2015 and 8 June 2015

3 GOLD Stage 2 with no requirement for bronchodilator reversibility: http://www.goldcopd.org/uploads/users/files/GOLD_Report_2015_Sept2.pdf

4 FEV1: forced expiratory volume in one second

5 IMS Consulting Group market research 2014

6 Franciosi, L.G., et al., Efficacy and safety of RPL554, a dual PDE3 and PDE4 inhibitor, in healthy volunteers and in patients with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: findings from four clinical trials. Lancet Respir Med, 2013. 1(9): p. 714-27

For further information please contact:


Verona Pharma plc
Jan-Anders Karlsson, CEO
Victoria Stewart, Director of Communications
Tel: +44 (0)20 3283 4200

N+1 Singer (Nominated Adviser and UK Broker)
Aubrey Powell /Jen Boorer /Iqra Amin (Corporate Finance)
Brough Ransom /Mia Gardner (Corporate Broking)
Tel: +44 (0)20 3283 4200



Optimum Strategic Communications
(European Media and Investor enquiries)
Mary Clark, Annemarieke Ezendam
Hollie Vile
Tel: +44 (0) 203 950 9144

Argot Partners (Investor enquiries)
Stephanie Marks
Tel. +1 646 644 9590


Verona Pharma plc
3 More London Riverside, London SE1 2RE
T: +44 (0)203 283 4200

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