Akcea Announces Publication of Study Results Showing Multiple Benefits of Patient-to-Patient Connectivity in FCS

Results from the first-ever study evaluating quality of life in people with FCS and impact of patient connectivity published in Expert Opinion on Orphan Drugs.

Both active and passive connectivity associated with significant improvement in patient-reported perceptions of overall health, disease outlook and emotional well-being.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 31, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Akcea Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKCA), an affiliate of Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., focused on developing and commercializing drugs to treat people with serious and rare diseases, today announced the publication of results from the first-ever study demonstrating the benefits of patient-to-patient connectivity in the management of familial chylomicronemia syndrome (FCS). FCS is a rare, potentially life-threatening disease with multiple severe, daily and chronic manifestations that affect one’s ability to work and engage in activities of everyday living. Results from the CONNECT study which surveyed both FCS patients and their caregivers were published this month in Expert Opinion on Orphan Drugs.

“FCS has been a significant challenge for me and my family. I have been to the hospital more than 100 times for pancreatitis and had to go on permanent disability. I did not realize that facing these challenges alone was making the burden much more difficult,” said Mark Childers. “I felt like giving up, but then I attended my first meeting where I met other people living with FCS. I immediately felt more empowered and better able to manage and cope with the physical and emotional symptoms of FCS. That first meeting turned me into an advocate in the effort to help others and I now connect with other people living with FCS as often as I can.” 

“Like many rare diseases, FCS is associated with feelings of isolation and lack of support that can be devastating. We have had the privilege of hearing from many patients and caregivers about the significant benefits that connectivity can provide,” said Alan Gilstrap, executive director, advocacy and policy at Akcea. “We planned this study to learn more about the experience of living with FCS, but we also hope that these results will inspire more patients and caregivers to take steps to connect with others to share information and offer support either in person or online.”

In the CONNECT study, FCS patients and caregivers in the U.S. and Canada were asked to respond to a series of questions to highlight their level of connectivity with FCS-focused organizations and the perceived benefits that these associations provide. A total of 50 respondents self-identified as either actively or passively connected or not connected to any patient group. Respondents were asked to compare different measures of quality of life before and after connecting with an FCS support organization.

Patients who reported some level of connection to FCS support organizations overall showed a marked improvement in perceptions of their overall health, disease outlook and emotional well-being compared to the period before making these connections. After connecting with patient support organizations, respondents reported that they were more likely to take steps to manage their health. Patients who were actively connected (regularly taking part in ongoing conversations with one or more groups) were three times as likely to report “high” or “extremely high” motivation in managing their health. As levels of connection increase, patients are also more likely to report higher levels of satisfaction with their primary treating physician.

“In many serious illnesses, especially many rare diseases, feelings of isolation and lack of support can affect a patient’s ability and willingness to take steps to manage their health and comply with treatment,” said David J. Davidson, MD, a clinical lipidologist at NorthShore Medical Group in Bannockburn, IL. “These new findings reinforce that efforts to help patients connect with other patients should be considered a vital and beneficial factor in the treatment of FCS.”

It is estimated that there are between 3,000 to 5,000 people living with FCS worldwide. Due to its rarity and the variability in terminology used by physicians to refer to FCS in the past, it is under-diagnosed and many patients, caregivers and FCS advocates have not had the opportunity to meet others living with this disease. In March 2018, Akcea sponsored the Connection Summit, the first-ever global meeting of leaders from the FCS patient advocacy community from around the world. Meeting participants announced plans for the first global FCS Awareness Day to be held the first Friday in November each year beginning in 2018.

“The new insights from the CONNECT study illustrate the benefits that any level of connectivity with other patients – either in person or online – can provide to people living with FCS,” said Molly Harper, vice president and global franchise head, cardiometabolics at Akcea. “This further reinforces the importance of ensuring that health care providers recognize FCS, provide an accurate diagnosis, and empower patients with education and resources including access to an active patient community that provides opportunities for connection and engagement.”


FCS is an ultra-rare disease caused by impaired function of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (LPL) and characterized by severe hypertriglyceridemia (>880mg/dL) and a risk of unpredictable and potentially fatal acute pancreatitis. Because of limited LPL function, people with FCS cannot breakdown chylomicrons, lipoprotein particles that are 90% triglycerides. In addition to pancreatitis, FCS patients are at risk of chronic complications due to permanent organ damage. They can experience daily symptoms including abdominal pain, generalized fatigue and impaired cognitions that affect their ability to work. People with FCS also report major emotional and psychosocial effects including anxiety, social withdrawal, depression and brain fog. There is no effective therapy for FCS currently available. Additional information on FCS is available at www.fcsfocus.com, and through the FCS Foundation at http://www.livingwithfcs.org and the LPLD Alliance at www.lpldalliance.org. For a full list of organizations supporting the FCS community worldwide, please click here.

Akcea Therapeutics, Inc., an affiliate of Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:IONS), is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing drugs to treat patients with serious and rare diseases. Akcea is advancing a mature pipeline of six novel drugs, including TEGSEDI™ (inotersen), WAYLIVRA™ (volanesorsen), AKCEA-APO(a)-LRx, AKCEA-ANGPTL3-LRx, AKCEA-APOCIII-LRx, and AKCEA-TTR-LRx, all with the potential to treat multiple diseases. All six drugs were discovered by and are being co-developed with Ionis, a leader in antisense therapeutics, and are based on Ionis’ proprietary antisense technology. TEGSEDI is under regulatory review in the U.S. and Canada for the treatment of people with hereditary transthyretin amyloidosis (hATTR). WAYLIVRA is under regulatory review in the U.S., EU and Canada for the treatment of familial chylomicronemia syndrome, or FCS, and is currently in Phase 3 clinical development for the treatment of people with familial partial lipodystrophy, or FPL. Akcea is building the infrastructure to commercialize its drugs globally. Akcea is a global company headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Additional information about Akcea is available at www.akceatx.com.

This press release includes forward-looking statements regarding the business of Akcea Therapeutics, Inc. Any statement describing Akcea’s goals, expectations, financial or other projections, intentions or beliefs is a forward-looking statement and should be considered an at-risk statement. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, particularly those inherent in the process of discovering, developing and commercializing drugs that are safe and effective for use as human therapeutics, and in the endeavor of building a business around such drugs. Akcea’s forward-looking statements also involve assumptions that, if they never materialize or prove correct, could cause its results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Although Akcea’s forward-looking statements reflect the good faith judgment of its management, these statements are based only on facts and factors currently known by Akcea. As a result, you are cautioned not to rely on these forward-looking statements. These and other risks concerning Akcea’s programs are described in additional detail in its quarterly report on Form 10-Q and other documents, which are on file with the SEC.

In this press release, unless the context requires otherwise, “Akcea,” “Company,” “we,” “our,” and “us” refers to Akcea Therapeutics.

Ionis Pharmaceuticals™ is a trademark of Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Akcea Therapeutics™, TEGSEDI™ and WAYLIVRA™ are trademarks of Akcea Therapeutics, Inc.

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