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AEterna Zentaris to Report Data from Safety Study of Phase 3 Program in Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia with Cetrorelix Ahead of Schedule

QUEBEC CITY, June 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - AEterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ: AEZS; TSX: AEZ), a global biopharmaceutical company focused on endocrine therapy and oncology, today reported that patient follow-up in the open-label safety study (study 041) of its Phase 3 program in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) with its lead endocrinology compound, cetrorelix pamoate, is scheduled to be completed at the end of this week. Therefore, data analysis and reporting will be brought forward from the scheduled fourth quarter into the third quarter of 2009, and will follow the disclosure of results from the first double-blind placebo controlled efficacy study (study 033). BPH is a benign enlargement of the prostate, affecting more than 20 million men in the U.S. alone.

"We are very pleased to have reached this stage of the Phase 3 development of cetrorelix in BPH and look forward to the data emerging in the next quarter. We are also pleased that the ongoing reviews of safety data from our Data and Safety Monitoring Committee have not shown any need for protocol or study procedure amendments to the studies," said Paul Blake M.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of AEterna Zentaris.

The safety study (041) titled, "Cetrorelix pamoate in patients with symptomatic BPH: an open-labeled safety and efficacy assessment study", will assess an intermittent dosage regimen of cetrorelix pamoate as a potential safe and tolerable treatment providing prolonged improvement in BPH-related signs and symptoms. Patients receive cetrorelix pamoate by intra-muscular (IM) injection at Weeks 0 and 2, and are followed up to Week 26. The main endpoint is the incidence of possibly drug-related adverse events. More information on this trial may be obtained at under the reference number NCT00670306.

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 multi-center efficacy study for which patient recruitment was completed in April 2008 is currently being conducted primarily in the United States and Canada, with additional sites in Europe and involves 667 patients under the supervision of lead investigator, Herbert Lepor, MD, Professor at NYU School of Medicine, New York. Patients enter a 4-week run-in no-treatment observation period to confirm severity and stability of voiding symptoms based on the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS). Patients are then randomly allocated to cetrorelix or placebo in a double-blind fashion. Patients are administered cetrorelix by intra-muscular (IM) injection at Week 0, 2, 26 and 28 and are followed up to Week 52. Then, in an open-label extension, patients receive cetrorelix by IM injection at Week 52, 54, 78 and 80 and are followed up to Week 90.

The second multi-center Phase 3 efficacy study 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, MD, of the Andros Mannenkliniek, Arnhem, The Netherlands, receive cetrorelix according to similar dosing regimens used in the first study.

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 study in the Phase 3 program, a multi-center safety study, for which patient recruitment was completed in December 2008, is an ongoing open-label, single-armed study involving 528 patients in North America. The lead investigator is 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.

First efficacy results are expected during the third quarter of 2009 with an NDA filing targeted in 2010.

Recently, AEterna Zentaris also announced that patients completing two years of therapy with cetrorelix in the first efficacy study (study 033), will be eligible to continue with the cetrorelix treatment, according to treatment regimen of the ongoing Phase 3 study, until the end of 2011. Patients entering this extension study sponsored by the Company's partner sanofi-aventis, will be followed-up for safety, International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) and quality of life during the extended treatment, providing follow-up data on cetrorelix for up to 5 years.

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

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 requested by a governmental authority or applicable law.

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