Shire's New Formulation of ONCASPAR (pegaspargase) Receives Marketing Authorization in Europe for Patients with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

Freeze-dried, or lyophilized, formulation aims to improve supply management
by providing the same dosing regimen as liquid ONCASPAR,
but with a three-times longer shelf life of up to 24 months


Zug, Switzerland – December 13, 2017 – Shire (LSE: SHP, NASDAQ: SHPG), the global leader in rare diseases, today announced that the European Commission (EC) granted Marketing Authorization for lyophilized ONCASPAR (pegaspargase), as a component of antineoplastic combination therapy in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in pediatric patients from birth to 18 years, and in adult patients.1 The approval – which authorizes Shire to market lyophilized ONCASPAR in the 28 member states of the European Union (EU), as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – follows a positive opinion adopted by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on October 12.

“This approval underscores Shire’s commitment to patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia through continued research and evolution of asparaginase therapy,” said Howard B. Mayer, M.D., SVP and ad-interim Head, Global Research and Development, Shire. “With this lyophilized formulation, we aim to make pegylated asparaginase, part of the pediatric standard therapy in acute lymphoblastic leukemia, available to patients in countries where liquid ONCASPAR is not currently offered. Additionally, with extended shelf life up to 24 months, treatment centers will have flexibility in inventory management to help ensure continuous treatment supply for patients.”

Lyophilized ONCASPAR builds on more than a decade of data and research with liquid ONCASPAR, a pegylated asparaginase, and works the same way as the liquid formulation. By depleting serum L-asparagine levels and thereby interfering with protein synthesis, ONCASPAR deprives lymphoblasts of L-asparagine, resulting in cell death.2,3,4

The new lyophilized formulation offers the same dosing regimen as liquid ONCASPAR, but with a three-times longer shelf life than the liquid formulation.1 Asparaginase is a critical component of the treatment regimen for ALL patients as it is a proven approach to inducing leukemic cell death.,,   

Shire expects lyophilized ONCASPAR to be available in European markets beginning in the first half of 2018.

About Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the white blood cells and is characterized by an overproduction and accumulation of lymphoblasts, immature white blood cells. ALL is the most common type (~75%) of cancer among children diagnosed with leukemia. ALL can be curable within certain pediatric patient populations, with a five-year overall survival rate of 96% in children treated with regimens including ONCASPAR.


In Europe, ONCASPAR is indicated as a component of antineoplastic combination therapy in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in pediatric patients from birth to 18 years, and adult patients.1

Safety Information in Europe

ONCASPAR is contraindicated in patients with hypersensitivity to the active substance or to any of the excipients, in patients with severe hepatic impairment, and in patients with a history of serious thrombosis, pancreatitis, or serious hemorrhagic events with prior L-asparaginase therapy.

Anaphylaxis or serious allergic reactions can occur; therefore, patients should be observed for 1 hour after administration having resuscitation equipment ready. Discontinue ONCASPAR in patients with serious allergic reactions. There have been reports of adverse reactions of pancreatitis. If pancreatitis is suspected ONCASPAR should be discontinued. ONCASPAR should also be discontinued in patients with serious thrombotic events.

Combination therapy with ONCASPAR can result in hepatic toxicity and central nervous system toxicity. In the presence of symptoms of hyperammonemia (e.g. nausea, vomiting, lethargy, irritation), ammonia levels should be monitored closely.

Very common adverse reactions reported in clinical trial data and the post‑marketing experience of ONCASPAR in ALL patients include: hyperglycemia, pancreatitis, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea; hypersensitivity, urticaria, anaphylactic reactions; weight decreased; decreased appetite; rash.

Common adverse reactions include: febrile neutropenia, anemia, thrombosis; vomiting, stomatitis; hepatotoxicity, fatty liver; infections, sepsis; amylase increased, alanine aminotransferase increased, blood bilirubin increased, blood albumin decreased, neutrophil count decreased, platelet count decreased, activated partial thromboplastin time prolonged, prothrombin time prolonged, hypofibrinogenemia; hypertriglyceridemia, hyperlipidemia, hypercholesterolemia; pain in extremities; seizure, peripheral motor neuropathy, syncope; hypoxia; thrombosis.1

For further information please contact:

Investor Relations


Ian Karp


+1 781 482 9018


Robert Coates


+44 203 549 0874




Gwen Fisher


+1 781 482 9649


Annabel Cowper


+41 44 878 6638


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