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AEterna Zentaris (AEZS) Requests Fast Track Designation From the FDA for AEZS-130 as Diagnostic Test for Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency


7/24/2012 11:19:38 AM

Québec City, Canada, July 24, 2012 – Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ: AEZS) (TSX: AEZ) (the “Company”) today announced that it has filed a request with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Fast Track designation for its oral ghrelin agonist, AEZS-130, as a diagnostic test for adult growth hormone deficiency (AGHD). The request is part of the Company’s New Drug Application (“NDA”) strategy for AEZS-130 to advance the product towards regulatory approval as efficiently as possible.

The FDA’s Fast Track program is designed, among other things, to facilitate the development and expedite the review of new drugs that demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs. According to its guidance on Fast Track applications, the FDA responds within 60 days of receipt of such requests.

Juergen Engel, PhD, President and CEO of Aeterna Zentaris stated, “After a lengthy series of informative discussions with the FDA, we now have the valuable guidance needed to move ahead as quickly as possible with our NDA filing plans. In conjunction with that, obtaining Fast Track designation would give us the opportunity to submit our NDA on a rolling basis. This means we could submit certain modules of our NDA progressively, with the expectation that review of those portions of the NDA would be complete or well underway before we complete the NDA submission. Should we obtain agreement on our Fast Track designation and rolling submission strategy, we would expect to begin filing modules before year-end and complete the NDA submission in the first quarter of 2013. Furthermore, we believe our request for Fast Track designation is warranted since there is currently no approved diagnostic test for AGHD in North America, and AEZS-130 could provide a safe and effective test which would be more convenient because it is administered orally.”

About Fast Track Designation

The Fast Track program of the FDA is designed to facilitate the development and expedite the review of new drugs that are intended to treat serious or life-threatening conditions and that demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs. Fast Track designated drugs ordinarily qualify for priority review, thereby expediting the FDA review process.

The rolling submission is an FDA provision available to drug candidates that have received Fast Track designation, and allows for completed sections of an NDA to be submitted on an ongoing basis.

About AGHD

AGHD affects 35,000 adult Americans, with 6,000 new adult patients diagnosed each year. Growth hormone not only plays an important role in growth from childhood to adulthood, but helps promote good health throughout life. AGHD is usually characterized by low energy levels, decreased strength and exercise tolerance, increased weight or difficulty losing weight, emotional changes, anxiety and impaired sleep.

About AEZS-130

AEZS-130, a ghrelin agonist, is a novel orally-active small molecule that stimulates the secretion of growth hormone. The Company has completed a Phase 3 trial for use as an oral diagnostic test for AGHD. AEZS-130 has been granted orphan drug designation by the FDA for use in this indication. AEZS-130 is also in a Phase 2A trial as a treatment for cancer induced cachexia. Aeterna Zentaris owns the worldwide rights to AEZS-130.

About Aeterna Zentaris

Aeterna Zentaris is an oncology and endocrinology drug development company currently investigating treatments for various unmet medical needs. The Company’s pipeline encompasses compounds at all stages of development, from drug discovery through to marketed products. For more information please visit www.aezsinc.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbour provisions of the U.S. Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that 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 risk that safety and efficacy data from any of our Phase 3 trials may not coincide with the data analyses from previously reported Phase 1 and/or Phase 2 clinical trials, 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 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, unless required to do so by a governmental authority or by applicable law.

Investor Relations

Ginette Beaudet 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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