Advanz Acquires Rights to Market Salagen for Dry Mouth in Sjogren’s

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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Advanz Pharma has acquired the global rights (except in Japan) to market Salagen (pilocarpine hydrochloride) tablets, an approved therapy for dry mouth in people with Sjogren’s syndrome, the company announced.

Salagen, originally marketed by Eisai, is also used as a treatment for relieving dry mouth in head and neck cancer patients with suboptimal production of saliva (a condition called xerostomia) as a result of radiotherapy.

Sjögren’s syndrome, a chronic condition affecting mostly women, is characterized by inflammation and damage to the exocrine glands, such as those that produce saliva or tears, leading to impaired function.

A hallmark of the disease is dryness of the eyes and mouth, which can cause difficulty in chewing, swallowing food, and speaking without frequent water intake. Patients may develop other symptoms, including pneumonia, kidney disease, and B-cell lymphomas.

The active compound in Salagen, called pilocarpine, belongs to the class of medicines called cholinergic agonists. These agents mimic the action of acetylcholine, one of the most common neurotransmitters in the body. Specifically, pilocarpine stimulates the exocrine glands, resulting in increased production of saliva and making it easier and more comfortable to speak and swallow.

Advanz Pharma has also acquired the rights to commercialize Panretin (alitretinoin), a topical treatment of skin lesions in patients with AIDS-associated Kaposi sarcoma.

A rare cancer, Kaposi sarcoma is caused by a type of virus called Kaposi sarcoma herpes virus (KSHV). The main symptom of Kaposi sarcoma is skin lesions, but the disease also affects the mouth and occasionally the internal organs.

There are four types of Kaposi sarcoma, defined according to the group of patients each affects. The most common type of Kaposi sarcoma in the United States is AIDS-associated Kaposi sarcoma, where the disease develops in people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

“We believe these medicines are excellent strategic fits with our global commercial infrastructure and are well-aligned with our product acquisition focus,” Graeme Duncan, chief executive officer of Advanz Pharma, said in a press release.

“In addition, the transaction demonstrates that the company has returned as a participant in the global [mergers and acquisitions] marketplace, and reinforces our commitment to our new strategy, known as PLAN,” he said.

PLAN is designed to include partnerships with focused teams with local knowledge and product acquisitions that expand Advanz Pharma’s portfolio.