AstraZeneca Submits sNDA for SEROQUEL XR(TM) for the Treatment of Generalized Anxiety...

Thu May 8, 2008 8:02am EDT

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AstraZeneca Submits sNDA for SEROQUEL XR(TM) for the Treatment of Generalized
Anxiety Disorder - a First for the Atypical Antipsychotic Class of Medicines

WILMINGTON, Del., May 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN)
today announced the submission of a supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA)
to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for SEROQUEL XR(TM) (quetiapine
fumarate) Extended-Release Tablets to seek approval for the treatment of
generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), including maintenance of antianxiety
effect.  It is the first time approval has been sought for an atypical
antipsychotic medicine in GAD.  The submission is based on a robust clinical
development program involving more than three thousand patients. This week, at
the 161st Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in
Washington, D.C., data from two of the studies (Studies 9 and 12) supporting
the submission were presented.
    GAD, which affects approximately 6.8 million adults in the U.S., is
characterized by persistent anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension. GAD is
diagnosed when someone excessively worries about a number of everyday problems
for at least 6 months.(1,2) Several classes of drugs have demonstrated
efficacy in the treatment of GAD. Treatment typically includes selective-
serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake
inhibitors (SNRIs); however, approximately 30 percent of patients do not
achieve an adequate response to short-term treatment.(3) Benzodiazepines,
commonly prescribed antianxiety medications, may be used for the rapid relief
of anxiety symptoms, but long-term use of these agents is not generally
    The GAD submission is based on four Phase III efficacy and safety studies.
Three short-term, multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled
studies (Studies 9, 10, and 11) compared the safety and efficacy of SEROQUEL
XR at doses of 50 mg, 150 mg and 300 mg to placebo for eight weeks in
outpatients with GAD. Active controls were also used in Study 10 (escitalopram
10 mg daily) and Study 11 (paroxetine 20 mg daily). These short-term studies
used the Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety (HAM-A)* as the primary assessment
of anxiety symptoms.(5-8)
    Study 12 was a long-term, multicenter, randomized-withdrawal, parallel-
group, placebo-controlled, Phase III study that comprised four phases: an
enrollment period of up to 28 days, an open-label run-in treatment period of
four to eight weeks, an open-label stabilization treatment period of 12 to 18
weeks, and a randomized-withdrawal treatment period of up to 52 weeks. The
SEROQUEL XR dose was flexible: 50 mg, 150 mg, or 300 mg once daily, based on
the clinical judgment of the investigator. In this longer-term study, the
primary assessment was time from randomization to an anxiety event.(8)
    In 2007, SEROQUEL XR was approved in the U.S. for the treatment of
schizophrenia in adult patients and for maintenance treatment of schizophrenia
in adult patients. SEROQUEL XR is currently not approved for the treatment of
bipolar disorder. In January 2008, AstraZeneca announced the submission of two
separate sNDAs to the FDA for SEROQUEL XR to seek approval for the treatment
of manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder and the treatment of
depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder. In February 2008,
AstraZeneca filed a sNDA for SEROQUEL XR to seek approval for the treatment of
MDD as monotherapy, adjunct therapy, and maintenance therapy. The FDA has not
completed its review of these submissions.
    SEROQUEL XR is indicated for the acute and maintenance treatment of
schizophrenia.  Patients should be periodically reassessed to determine the
need for maintenance treatment and the appropriate dose.
    Elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with atypical
antipsychotic drugs are at an increased risk (1.6 to 1.7 times) of death,
compared to placebo (4.5% vs 2.6%, respectively).  SEROQUEL XR is not approved
for the treatment of patients with dementia-related psychosis.  (See Boxed
    Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in
children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies of major
depressive disorder and other psychiatric disorders.  Patients of all ages
started on therapy should be observed closely for clinical worsening,
suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior.  Families and caregivers should
be advised of the need for close observation and communication with the
prescriber.  SEROQUEL XR is not approved for use in patients under the age of
18 years.  SEROQUEL XR is not approved for the treatment of depression;
however, an immediate release form of quetiapine is approved for the treatment
of bipolar depression. (See Boxed Warning.)
    Hyperglycemia, in some cases extreme and associated with ketoacidosis,
hyperosmolar coma, or death, has been reported in patients treated with
atypical antipsychotics, including quetiapine.  The relationship of atypical
use and glucose abnormalities is complicated by the possibility of increased
risk of diabetes in the schizophrenic population and the increasing incidence
of diabetes in the general population.  However, epidemiological studies
suggest an increased risk of treatment-emergent, hyperglycemia-related adverse
events in patients treated with atypical antipsychotics.  Patients starting
treatment with atypical antipsychotics who have or are at risk for diabetes
should undergo fasting blood glucose testing at the beginning of and
periodically during treatment.  Patients who develop symptoms of hyperglycemia
should also undergo fasting blood glucose testing.
    A potentially fatal symptom complex, sometimes referred to as Neuroleptic
Malignant Syndrome (NMS), has been reported in association with administration
of antipsychotic drugs, including quetiapine.  Rare cases of NMS have been
reported with quetiapine.  Clinical manifestations of NMS are hyperpyrexia,
muscle rigidity, altered mental status, and evidence of autonomic instability
(irregular pulse or blood pressure, tachycardia, diaphoresis, and cardiac
dysrhythmia).  Additional signs may include elevated creatine phosphokinase,
myoglobinuria (rhabdomyolysis), and acute renal failure.  The management of
NMS should include immediate discontinuation of antipsychotic drugs.
    Tardive dyskinesia (TD), a potentially irreversible syndrome of
involuntary dyskinetic movements, may develop in patients treated with
antipsychotic drugs.  The risk of developing TD and the likelihood that it
will become irreversible are believed to increase as the duration of treatment
and total cumulative dose of antipsychotic drugs administered to the patient
increase.  TD may remit, partially or completely, if antipsychotic treatment
is withdrawn.  Quetiapine should be prescribed in a manner that is most likely
to minimize the occurrence of TD.
    Leukopenia, neutropenia, and agranulocytosis (including fatal cases), have
been reported temporally related to atypical antipsychotics, including
quetiapine.  Patients with a pre-existing low white blood cell (WBC) count or
a history of drug induced leukopenia/neutropenia should have their complete
blood count monitored frequently during the first few months of therapy.  In
these patients, SEROQUEL XR should be discontinued at the first sign of a
decline in WBC absent other causative factors.  Patients with neutropenia
should be carefully monitored, and SEROQUEL XR should be discontinued in any
patient if the absolute neutrophil count is less than 1000 per cubic
    Warnings and Precautions also include the risk of orthostatic hypotension,
cataracts, seizures, hyperlipidemia, and possibility of suicide attempts.
Examination of the lens by methods adequate to detect cataract formation, such
as slit lamp exam or other appropriately sensitive methods, is recommended at
initiation of treatment or shortly thereafter, and at 6-month intervals during
chronic treatment.  The possibility of a suicide attempt is inherent in
schizophrenia, and close supervision of high risk patients should accompany
drug therapy.
    The most commonly observed adverse events associated with the use of
SEROQUEL XR versus placebo in clinical trials for schizophrenia were dry mouth
(12% vs 1%), constipation (6% vs 5%), dyspepsia (5% vs 2%), sedation (13% vs
7%), somnolence (12% vs 4%), dizziness (10% vs 4%), and orthostatic
hypotension (7% vs 5%).
    In long-term clinical trials of quetiapine, hyperglycemia (fasting glucose
greater than or equal to 126 mg/dL) was observed in 10.7% of patients
receiving quetiapine (mean exposure 213 days) vs 4.6% in patients receiving
placebo (mean exposure 152 days).
    Please see Prescribing Information, including Boxed Warnings, for SEROQUEL
    About Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
    GAD is characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry, and tension,
even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.(1,2) People with GAD
anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about health issues, money,
family problems, or difficulties at work.
    People with GAD can't seem to get rid of their concerns, even though they
usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation
warrants.(1,2) They can't relax, startle easily, and have difficulty
concentrating. Often they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
Physical symptoms that often accompany the anxiety include fatigue, headaches,
muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching,
irritability, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, having to go to the bathroom
frequently, feeling out of breath, and hot flashes. GAD is diagnosed when
someone excessively worries about a number of everyday problems for at least 6
    In the U.S. GAD affects about 6.8 million adults, with women twice as
likely to develop GAD as men.(1,2) The disorder comes on gradually and can
begin across the life cycle. GAD rarely occurs alone and is often accompanied
by other anxiety disorders, depression, or substance abuse. Genetic factors
are also thought to be involved.
    About AstraZeneca
    AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the
research, development, manufacturing and marketing of meaningful prescription
medicines and supplier for healthcare services. AstraZeneca is one of the
world's leading pharmaceutical companies with healthcare sales of $29.55
billion and is a leader in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience,
respiratory, oncology and infectious disease medicines. In the United States,
AstraZeneca is a $13.35 billion dollar healthcare business with 12,200
employees committed to improving people's lives. AstraZeneca is listed in the
Dow Jones Sustainability Index (Global) as well as the FTSE4Good Index.
    For more information visit
    The statements contain herein include forward-looking statements.
Although we believe our expectations are based on reasonable assumptions, any
forward-looking statements, by their very nature, involve risks and
uncertainties and may be influenced by factors that could cause actual
outcomes and results to be materially different from those predicted.  The
forward-looking statements reflect knowledge and information available at the
date of the preparation of this press release and the Company undertakes no
obligation to update these forward-looking statements.  Important factors that
could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in
forward-looking statements, certain of which are beyond our control, include,
among other things, those risk factors identified in the Company's Annual
Report/Form 20-F for 2007.  Nothing contained herein should be construed as a
profit forecast.
    *  The HAM-A rating scale consists of 14 items and measures the severity
       of symptoms such as anxiety, tension, depressed mood, palpitations,
       breathing difficulties, sleep disturbances, restlessness, and other
       physical symptoms.(9)

    1.  National Institute of Mental Health: Anxiety Disorders. NIH
        Publication No. 06-3879. Available at: (Due to URL length, please copy
        and paste into browser)
anxiety-disorder-gad.shtml        Accessed March 20, 2008.

    2.  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition,
        Text Revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association;

    3.  Rickels K and Ryann M. Pharmacotherapy of Generalized Anxiety
        Disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. 2002;63 (suppl 14): 9-16.

    4.  Schmitt R, Gazalle FK, Silva de Lima M, et al. The efficacy of
        antidepressants for generalized anxiety disorder: a systematic review
        and meta-analysis. The Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry. 2005;

    5.  Data on File, DA-SXR-15, AstraZeneca LP.

    6.  Joyce M, Khan A, Atkinson S, et al. Efficacy and safety of extended
        release Quetiapine fumarate (quetiapine XR) monotherapy in patients
        with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) [poster]. Presented at: The
        Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association; May 3-8, 2008,
        Washington, D.C., USA.

    7.  Chouinard G, Bandelow B, Ahokas A, et al. Once-daily extended release
        of quetiapine fumarate (quetiapine XR) monotherapy in generalized
        anxiety disorder: a Phases III, double-blind, placebo-controlled study
        [poster]. Presented at: The Annual Meeting of The American College of
        Neuropsychopharmacology; December 9-13, 2007, Boca Raton, FL.

    8.  Katzman M, Brawman-Mintzer O, Reyes E, et al. Extended Release
        quetiapine fumarate (quetiapine XR) monotherapy in maintenance
        treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): efficacy and
        tolerability results from a randomized, placebo-controlled trial
        [poster]. Presented at: The Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric
        Association; May 3-8, 2008, Washington, D.C., USA.

    9.  Lundbeck Institute. Psychiatric Rating Scales. PDF available at:
        Accessed on May 2, 2008.

SOURCE  AstraZeneca

Jim Minnick, +1-302-886-5135,, or Abigail Baron,
+1-302-885-3578,, both of AstraZeneca
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