AEterna Zentaris Announces Results from Two Phase 3 Studies with Cetrorelix in Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia



    QUEBEC CITY, Aug. 17 /CNW Telbec/ - AEterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:   AEZS;
TSX: AEZ) (the "Company"), a global biopharmaceutical company focused on
endocrine therapy and oncology, today reported Phase 3 results for its North
American efficacy trial Z-033 and the safety trial Z-041 in benign prostatic
hyperplasia (BPH), with its lead endocrinology compound for urology,
cetrorelix pamoate. As announced on March 6, 2009, sanofi-aventis U.S. LLC
entered into an agreement with AEterna Zentaris for the development,
registration and marketing of cetrorelix in BPH for the U.S. market.

    Study Z-033

    The first multi-center efficacy trial Z-033 was conducted in 53 sites in
the United States and Canada, with 8 additional sites in Europe. The study
involved 667 patients under the supervision of lead investigator, Herbert
Lepor, M.D., Professor and Chairman, Department of Urology, at NYU School of
Medicine, New York. Patients entered a 1- to 4-week screening period to
confirm severity and stability of voiding symptoms based on the International
Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS). Patients were then randomly allocated to
cetrorelix or placebo in a double-blind fashion. Patients were administered
cetrorelix by intra-muscular (IM) injection at Week 0, 2, 26 and 28 (for
treatment Arm A, those in Arm B received IM injection at week 0, 2 and 26
followed by placebo at Week 28). Patients in treatment Arm C received placebo
injections at Week 0, 2, 26 and 28. All patients were followed up to Week 52.
    The study Z-033 demonstrated no clear differences in overall efficacy
with all 3 groups showing an improvement in IPSS of approximately 4 points
that was maintained throughout the 52 weeks. There was a slight advantage in
favor of the main active treatment arm (Arm A) up to Week 46 of the follow-up,
which was no longer demonstrated at Week 52. These differences did not achieve
statistical significance. Furthermore, a favorable trend on the IPSS, as
compared to placebo, was seen in a sub-group of patients with large prostate
glands (greater than 50 cm3) on entry to the study.
    Tolerability of cetrorelix in study Z-033 was very good, as evidenced by
the absence of major differences to placebo with regard to both clinical
adverse events or changes in laboratory parameters. The most frequently
reported adverse experiences included hot flushes, nasopharyngitis, injection
site pain, and headache, which is what was seen in the safety study Z-041. In
particular, the incidence of hot flushes was lower than was seen in study
Z-041 (see below), and they were also reported by patients randomized to
placebo.

    Study Z-041

    In the safety study Z-041, all patients received cetrorelix by
intra-muscular (IM) injection at Weeks 0 and 2, and were followed up to Week
26. The primary endpoint was the incidence of possibly drug-related adverse
events; efficacy parameters were evaluated as secondary endpoints. The study
was conducted in 68 sites in the United States and Canada.
    Cetrorelix was generally well tolerated. Adverse events were mostly mild
and transient in intensity. Serious adverse events occurred in 12 patients,
but none of these was assessed as possibly drug-related. The most frequently
reported adverse experiences included hot flushes, nasopharyngitis, injections
site pain, and headache. Hot flushes were reported by 49 patients and were
mild and of short duration in the majority of patients. Only one patient
experienced a severe episode. A questionnaire was used to assess the local
tolerance of the IM injection and affirmed the acceptability of this route of
administration.
    Efficacy was assessed using the IPSS which showed an improvement from a
mean score of 21.2 at baseline to 15.6 at Week 26. In 63% of the patients, the
improvement was by at least 3 points. Notably, the 46% of patients who had
received previous treatment for BPH showed an important mean improvement of 5
points, which is only slightly less than the 6 point improvement seen in
treatment-naive patients. Maximum uroflow improved by 25%, from 10.3 to 12.5
ml/sec, and also the mean uroflow showed similar improvement.
    Juergen Engel, Ph.D., AEterna Zentaris President and CEO stated,
"Although the data received for the open-label safety study Z-041 with a
nearly 6 point reduction in IPSS are in line with what we had observed in our
Phase 2 program, we are disappointed by the failure to achieve the primary
endpoint in the efficacy study Z-033. We remain committed to the ongoing Phase
3 program with cetrorelix in BPH and are working towards receiving the results
of the second pivotal efficacy study Z-036 in November."
    Herbert Lepor, M.D., Professor and Chairman, Department of Urology, at
NYU School of Medicine, New York and Lead Investigator of the Z-033 trial
added, "These findings are unexpected in light of the previous Phase 2
experience. Those data and the strength of the safety data available to date
had given us confidence in this potential new treatment for BPH. It is now
important to await results of the other placebo-controlled efficacy study
Z-036."

    Conference Call

    The Company will host a conference call and webcast to discuss these
results later today, Monday, August 17, 2009 at 10:00 a.m., Eastern Time.
    Participants may access the live webcast via the Company's website at
www.aezsinc.com in the "Investors" section, or by telephone using the
following numbers: (outside Canada): 800-588-4942. (Canada): 416-644-3426 or
514-807-8791. A replay of the webcast will also be available on the Company's
website for a period of 30 days.

    About the Phase 3 Program with Cetrorelix in BPH

    Cetrorelix pamoate is currently in three Phase 3 trials involving more
than 1,600 patients with symptomatic BPH in Canada, the United States and
Europe.
    The first Phase 3 efficacy trial Z-033, titled, "Cetrorelix pamoate
intermittent IM dosage regimens in patients with symptomatic BPH: a 1-year
placebo-controlled efficacy study and long-term safety assessment", involved
667 patients mostly in North America and assessed an intermittent dosage
regimen of cetrorelix as treatment for BPH-related signs and symptoms.
    As announced recently, patients completing the 52 week double-blind study
are then allowed to continue into an open-label extension of this study,
sponsored by sanofi-aventis, where patients receive the same dosing regimen of
cetrorelix by IM injection at Week 52, 54, 78 and 80, and are followed up to
Week 90. Patients entering this extension study will be followed-up for
safety, IPSS and quality of life, thus providing follow-up data on cetrorelix
for up to 5 years.
    The second multi-center Phase 3 efficacy study Z-036 for which patient
recruitment was completed in October 2008, involves 420 patients, mainly in
Europe. Patients in this randomized placebo-controlled study with open-label
extension conducted under the supervision of lead investigator, Prof. Frans
M.J. Debruyne, M.D., of the Andros Mannenkliniek, Arnhem, The Netherlands,
receive cetrorelix according to similar dosing regimens used in the first
efficacy study Z-033.
    The primary endpoint for both North American and European efficacy
studies is absolute change in IPSS between baseline and Week 52. Other
efficacy endpoints include additional measures of BPH symptom progression and
the need for BPH-related surgery. Safety endpoints include changes in sexual
function. Other important endpoints include plasma changes in levels of
testosterone, and assessment of other adverse events.
    The third trial of the program is the safety study Z-041 titled,
"Cetrorelix pamoate in patients with symptomatic BPH: an open-labeled safety
and efficacy assessment study". It is a multi-center, open-label, single-armed
study involving 528 patients in North America. The lead investigator was Joel
Kaufman, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor in Urology at University of
Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, Colorado and at Urology Research
Options in Aurora, Colorado.
    Results of the second efficacy trial Z-036 are scheduled to be disclosed
during the fourth quarter of this year.

    About Cetrorelix

    Cetrorelix pamoate is an investigational agent that has shown in Phase 2
studies to provide fast and long lasting relief of BPH symptoms and was well
tolerated, with a low incidence of sexual side effects. Cetrorelix is part of
AEterna Zentaris' luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) antagonist
therapeutic approach. This peptide-based active substance was developed by the
Company in cooperation with Nobel Prize winner Prof. Andrew Schally, currently
of the U.S. Veterans Administration in Miami.
    Cetrorelix acetate is marketed under the brand name Cetrotide(R), the
first LHRH antagonist approved for therapeutic use as part of in vitro
fertilization programs (controlled ovulation stimulation/assisted reproductive
technologies) in Europe, the USA and Japan. It was launched on the market
through Serono (now Merck Serono) in the U.S., Europe and in several other
countries, as well as in Japan through Shionogi.

    About Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

    Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is one of the most common diseases of
aging men - affecting more than 20 million men in the United States - but its
etiology is far from being completely understood. Data from ongoing research
suggest BPH and lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) are more complex
conditions than once thought. While previous research on BPH etiology tended
to focus on testosterone and other hormones, more recent research suggests
other factors - including inflammation, various growth factors, and
adrenoreceptors - actually may play a greater role in the development of BPH
and LUTS.
    BPH is associated with LUTS, including: frequent urination, a sudden,
uncontrollable urge to urinate, waking at night to urinate (nocturia),
difficulty starting a urine stream (hesitancy and straining), decreased
strength of the urine stream (weak flow), feeling that the bladder is not
completely empty, an urge to urinate again soon after urinating and pain
during urination (dysuria). Currently available therapies may improve symptoms
to some degree, but often come with sexual and other side effects.

    About AEterna Zentaris Inc.

    AEterna Zentaris Inc. is a global biopharmaceutical company focused on
endocrine therapy and oncology, with proven expertise in drug discovery,
development and commercialization. News releases and additional information
are available at www.aezsinc.com.

    Forward-Looking Statements

    This press release contains forward-looking statements made pursuant to
the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Securities Litigation Reform Act of
1995. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and
uncertainties, which could cause the Company's actual results to differ
materially from those in the forward-looking statements. Such risks and
uncertainties include, among others, the availability of funds and resources
to pursue R&D projects, the successful and timely completion of clinical
studies, the ability of the Company to take advantage of business
opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry, uncertainties related to the
regulatory process and general changes in economic conditions. Investors
should consult the Company's quarterly and annual filings with the Canadian
and U.S. securities commissions for additional information on risks and
uncertainties relating to the forward-looking statements. Investors are
cautioned not to rely on these forward-looking statements. The Company does
not undertake to update these forward-looking statements. We disclaim any
obligation to update any such factors or to publicly announce the result of
any revisions to any of the forward-looking statements contained herein to
reflect future results, events or developments except if we are required by a
governmental authority or applicable law.




For further information:

For further information: Investor Relations: Ginette Vallières, Investor
Relations Coordinator, (418) 652-8525 ext. 265, gvallieres@aezsinc.com; Media
Relations: Paul Burroughs, Director of Communications, (418) 652-8525 ext.
406, pburroughs@aezsinc.com

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