Innovative medical food for rare metabolic disorder

Image of molecules on a blue background to show Innovative medical food for people diagnosed with rare metabolic disorder

An innovative medical food (food for special medical purpose) for people living with the rare, inherited metabolic disorder, phenylketonuria – or PKU as it is known for short – has been launched in the UK.

PKU EASY Microtabs provides a palatable alternative to other protein substitutes on the market, to help patients aged 8 and above manage the incurable condition and consume the protein they need each day.

Approximately 70 babies each year are born with PKU in the UK, an inherited disorder which prevents the body from breaking down the proteins in foods to amino acids and if unmanaged, can lead to brain damage.

Most patients in the UK are diagnosed at birth via newborn blood spot screening, also known as the heel-prick test, and are immediately started on treatment to reduce the risk of serious complications. Central to this is a lifelong, restrictive diet to limit the intake of one of the amino acids, phenylalanine, found in natural high-protein foods such as meat, fish, eggs and nuts. This is replaced with specially-designed medical foods to support the body’s everyday functions.

However, results from a 2018 survey of patients and caregivers in the UK found that the unpleasantness of available protein substitutes was one of the top three issues affecting both children and adults’ ability to follow their prescribed diet. PKU Easy Microtabs are small, innovative tablets with two distinct coatings that have been designed to overcome this challenge. The first delivers a palatable taste experience and prevents the tablet from dissolving before it hits the stomach, minimising acid reflux and bad breath; the second enables a slow release of amino acids into the body.

“There’s no getting away from the fact that people living with PKU rely heavily on medical foods to supplement their diet in order to get the level of protein needed for good health. Yet we know from the community that many of the available options have an off-putting smell, taste bad and leave the patient with bad breath because of how they are digested. Today’s launch gives UK patients a more pleasant choice that other countries have already enjoyed the benefit of for years,” explained Simon Lawrence, Commercial Director of Galen Nordics (formerly known as POA Pharma).

PKU Easy Microtabs was first launched by POA Pharma across Scandinavia in 2011, but until now, was not available to UK patients via the NHS. Last month, Galen announced the completion of its acquisition and takeover of POA Pharma. Alongside its wider product portfolio, the move was intended to expand access to the company’s innovative nutritional therapies for people with PKU.

Dr Dennise Broderick, President and Managing Director Galen said: “Within one month of the completion of our acquisition of POA Pharma we are delighted to be able to bring this important new dietary management option to the 6,000 plus patients living with PKU across the UK. This is a condition that patients have to think about every single day of their lives to ensure they have the right levels of protein to function correctly. Portability, taste and digestion of medical foods are all important considerations that we are proud to have addressed for the community with our novel microtabs.”