Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (Nasdaq: VRTX) announced today that the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) granted Marketing Authorization for CASGEVY™ (exagamglogene autotemcel [exa-cel]), a CRISPR/Cas9 gene-edited therapy, for the treatment of sickle cell disease (SCD) and transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia (TDT). CASGEVY is approved for the treatment of people 12 years of age and older with SCD or TDT. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has among the highest prevalence rates of SCD and TDT in the world, with thousands of patients living with these genetic blood disorders.
“This approval adds to the list of firsts for CASGEVY. It represents the first medicine ever to receive SFDA Breakthrough Designation and be approved through this pathway, and Vertex’s first ever regulatory approval in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Reshma Kewalramani, M.D., Chief Executive Officer and President of Vertex. “Most importantly, with this approval, people living with sickle cell disease or transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia have the possibility of a one-time transformative therapy for their disease.”
The Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs (MNGHA) is the first Authorized Treatment Center (ATC) in Saudi Arabia. Vertex is working to qualify additional hospitals as ATCs to bring CASGEVY to patients, including the King Faisal Specialist Hospital (KFSH). In order to enable rapid access to CASGEVY, Vertex is working to secure listing on hospital formularies to support reimbursement as soon as possible.
About Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)
SCD is a debilitating, progressive, life shortening genetic disease. SCD patients report health-related quality of life scores well below the general population and significant health care resource utilization. SCD affects the red blood cells, which are essential for carrying oxygen to all organs and tissues of the body. SCD causes severe pain, organ damage and shortened life span due to misshapen or “sickled” red blood cells. The clinical hallmark of SCD is vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs), which are caused by blockages of blood vessels by sickled red blood cells and result in severe and debilitating pain that can happen anywhere in the body at any time. SCD requires lifelong treatment and significant use of health care resources, and ultimately results in a reduced life expectancy, decreased quality of life and reduced lifetime earnings and productivity. Stem cell transplant from a matched donor is a curative option but is only available to a small fraction of people living with SCD because of the lack of available donors.
About Transfusion-Dependent Beta Thalassemia (TDT)
TDT is a serious, life-threatening genetic disease. TDT patients report health-related quality of life scores below the general population and significant health care resource utilization. TDT requires frequent blood transfusions and iron chelation therapy throughout a person’s life. Due to anemia, patients living with TDT may experience fatigue and shortness of breath, and infants may develop failure to thrive, jaundice and feeding problems. Complications of TDT can also include an enlarged spleen, liver and/or heart, misshapen bones and delayed puberty. TDT requires lifelong treatment and significant use of health care resources, and ultimately results in reduced life expectancy, decreased quality of life and reduced lifetime earnings and productivity. Stem cell transplant from a matched donor is a curative option but is only available to a small fraction of people living with TDT because of the lack of available donors.
About CASGEVY™ (exagamglogene autotemcel [exa-cel])
CASGEVY™ is a non-viral, ex vivo CRISPR/Cas9 gene-edited cell therapy for eligible patients with SCD or TDT, in which a patient’s own hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells are edited at the erythroid specific enhancer region of the BCL11A gene through a precise double-strand break. This edit results in the production of high levels of fetal hemoglobin (HbF; hemoglobin F) in red blood cells. HbF is the form of the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin that is naturally present during fetal development, which then switches to the adult form of hemoglobin after birth. CASGEVY has been shown to reduce or eliminate VOCs for patients with SCD and alleviate transfusion requirements for patients with TDT.
CASGEVY is approved for certain indications in multiple jurisdictions for eligible patients.