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Axsome Therapeutics receives FDA nod for Auvelity

Auvelity is the first and only oral nmda receptor antagonist for the treatment of major depressive disorder in adults.

Axsome Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company developing and delivering novel therapies for the management of central nervous system disorders, has obtained FDA permission for Auvelity (dextromethorphan HBr -bupropion HCl) extended-release tablets for the treatment of major depressive disorder in adults.

Auvelity is the first and only oral N-methyl D-aspartate receptor antagonist approved for the treatment of MDD, the company said.  Axsome anticipates Auvelity to be commercially available in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Maurizio Fava, psychiatrist-in-chief, department of psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, executive director, Clinical Trials Network & Institute, associate dean for clinical & translational research and Slater family professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School said, “The approval of Auvelity represents a milestone in depression treatment based on its novel oral NMDA antagonist mechanism, its rapid antidepressant efficacy demonstrated in controlled trials, and a relatively favorable safety profile."

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Fava added, "Auvelity, which was granted Breakthrough Therapy designation by the FDA, represents the first new oral non-monoamine-based mechanism of action approved to treat major depressive disorder in over sixty years. Nearly two thirds of patients treated with currently available antidepressants do not adequately respond, and those that do may not achieve clinically meaningful responses for up to six to eight weeks. Given the debilitating nature of depression, the efficacy of Auvelity observed at one week and sustained thereafter may have a significant impact on the current treatment paradigm for this condition.”

Michael Pollock, CEO of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, a national patient advocacy organization focusing on depression and bipolar disorder said, “The mental health crisis in the United States is one of the most pressing health issues facing our country today. Over 20 million American adults experienced major depressive disorder each year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. These numbers increased dramatically during the pandemic with approximately 30% of adults in the United States or more than 80 million Americans experiencing elevated symptoms of depression. The need for new treatment options, particularly those with new mechanisms of action, could not be clearer and more urgent for those living with, or impacted by major depressive disorder.”

Dan Iosifescu, professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine, and director of the Clinical Research Division at the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research said, “Major depressive disorder is disabling and potentially life-threatening, causes profound distress for patients and their families, and leads to substantial healthcare resource utilization. Auvelity’s oral NMDA receptor antagonist and sigma-1 receptor agonist activity, which targets glutamatergic neurotransmission, provides clinicians a long sought after new mechanistic approach which may benefit the millions of patients living with this serious condition."

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Iosifescu continued, "In clinical trials, Auvelity has demonstrated rapid and statistically significant improvement in depressive symptoms as early as Week 1, and increased rates of remission at Week 2 compared with placebo. This early benefit with Auvelity was maintained and increased with continued treatment, and was accompanied by a favorable safety and tolerability profile.”

“The approval of Auvelity is the culmination of the tremendous and focused research and development activities conducted by the Axsome team and our collaborators," said Herriot Tabuteau, Axsome CEO. "We are extremely proud to deliver this Breakthrough Therapy-designated new treatment to the millions of patients living with depression at a time when it is most needed, given the recent sharp increase in depression prevalence."

Tabuteau added, "We are thrilled to contribute to potentially fundamental advances in neuropsychiatry by providing clinicians the first rapid-acting oral antidepressant demonstrated with FDA labeling, and the first oral glutamatergic medicine approved for depression. Auvelity and the rest of the Axsome neuroscience portfolio reflect our steadfast commitment to developing and delivering potentially life-changing medicines to people living with serious central nervous system disorders."

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