FDA approval for marketing generic Lovenox expected

The expiration of exclusivity period for Sanofi Aventis’ blood thinner Lovenox has expired, moving Momenta Pharmaceutical Inc. one step closer to gaining approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to manufacture and market is generic Lovenox, M-Enoxaparin, according to Momenta’s first quarter 2009 Earnings Call.

Anticoagulants are often administered to patients before undergoing some surgeries and medical procedures to reduce the risk of life-threatening blood clots. Lovenox has been touted as an effective replacement for the blood thinner heparin in patients undergoing abdominal surgery.

Heparin carries a laundry list of side effects such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and low blood pressure. Concerns about heparin flooded the media last year with cases of accidental overdoes and shipments of tainted batches of the blood thinner imported from China. Both incidences caused patients serious injury or death.

The contaminated heparin scandal in particular created an urgency among consumers, the medical community and pharmaceutical companies to find safer alternatives to the commonly used blood thinner.

Momenta chief executive officer Craig A. Wheeler said in the conference call that the FDA continues to review its Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) process for M-Enoxaprin. ANDA is the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Office of Generic Drugs review and ultimate approval process of a generic drug.

Once approved, an applicant may manufacture and market the generic drug product to provide a safe, effective, low cost alternative to the American public. “We are in regular communication with the agency and responding to their questions as they arise,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler referred to the “global contamination issue” with the heparin supply and the FDA’s plant inspections of Chinese suppliers of heparin, adding that the companies who supply heparin to Momenta’s partner distributor Sandoz for the manufacture of M-Enoxaprin have all been inspected by the FDA.

While the company has no indication that the inspections raised concerns with the FDA, Wheeler said “Any disruption in the heparin supply has the potential to impact our supply chain.” As a result, the company will diversify its sources of heparin and closely monitor the supply chain.

Momenta hopes to launch M-Enoxaparin in 2009 provided the ANDA is readily approved by the FDA.

Seeking Alpha