Zenvia Phase III PBA Trial Completes Patient Enrollment

ALISO VIEJO, Calif., March 16, 2009 - AVANIR Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AVNR) today announced that it has completed targeted enrollment of patients into the STAR trial, a confirmatory Phase III trial of Zenvia™ (dextromethorphan/quinidine [DM/Q]) in patients exhibiting signs and symptoms of pseudobulbar affect (PBA). The randomized, multi-center, international STAR trial is designed to compare the effects of Zenvia 30/10 mg, Zenvia 20/10 mg and placebo on involuntary crying/laughing episodes rates.

"The completion of patient enrollment into the STAR trial is an important clinical milestone for Avanir," said Dr. Randall Kaye, Avanir's Chief Medical Officer. "We look forward to unblinding the data in the third calendar quarter of this year and plan to submit our complete response to the approvable letter in the first half of 2010."


The STAR trial had a targeted enrollment of 120 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and 180 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) who exhibit signs and symptoms of PBA at approximately 50 sites in the U.S. and Latin America. The primary efficacy analysis is based on the changes in crying/laughing episode rates recorded in patient diaries. Secondary endpoints for this clinical trial include: 1) Center for Neurologic Study-Lability Scale (CNS-LS) score; 2) Neuropsychiatric Inventory Questionnaire (NPI-Q); 3) SF-36 Health Survey; 4) Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II); and 5) Pain Rating Scale score (MS patients only). Safety and tolerability of Zenvia are determined by reporting adverse events, physical exam, vital signs, electrocardiogram, respiratory function tests and clinical assessment of clinical laboratory variables. For more information visit www.pbatrial.com.


Zenvia is a combination of two well-characterized compounds: the therapeutically active ingredient dextromethorphan and the enzyme inhibitor quinidine, which serves to increase the bioavailability of dextromethorphan. This first-in-class drug candidate is believed to help regulate excitatory neurotransmission in two ways: through pre-synaptic inhibition of glutamate release via sigma-1 receptor agonist activity and through postsynaptic glutamate response modulation via uncompetitive, low-affinity NMDA antagonist activity. Zenvia is currently in development for the treatment of PBA and diabetic peripheral neuropathic (DPN) pain. In October 2006, the Company received an approvable letter for Zenvia in the treatment of PBA. The Company has initiated a confirmatory Phase III study under a Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) agreement with the FDA utilizing a new lower quinidine dose formulation of Zenvia intended to address safety concerns raised in the Agency's approvable letter for Zenvia in the treatment of PBA. For more information about this trial visit, http://www.pbatrial.com, and for more information about the Agency's SPA process, see http://www.fda.gov/cder/guidance/3764fnl.htm. In April 2007, AVANIR announced successfully meeting all primary endpoints in a Phase III study of Zenvia in DPN pain. In May 2008, the Company released top-line results of a formal PK study that identified alternative lower-dose quinidine formulations of Zenvia for DPN pain intended to deliver similar efficacy and improved safety/tolerability versus the formulations previously tested for this indication. AVANIR is now engaged in positive dialogue with the FDA under the SPA process regarding the design of the next Phase III study in DPN pain and overall program requirements.


AVANIR Pharmaceuticals is focused on acquiring, developing, and commercializing novel therapeutic products for the treatment of chronic diseases. AVANIR's products and product candidates address therapeutic markets that include the central nervous system, inflammation, and infectious diseases. AVANIR's lead product candidate, Zenvia, is being developed for the treatment of PBA and DPN pain. AVANIR has licensed its MIF inhibitor program to Novartis International Pharmaceuticals Ltd. and has sold its anthrax monoclonal antibody program to Emergent BioSolutions. The Company's first commercialized product, Abreva®, is marketed in North America by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare and is the leading over-the-counter product for the treatment of cold sores. Further information about AVANIR can be found at www.avanir.com and further information about pseudobulbar affect can be found at www.PBAinfo.org.


Statements in this press release that are not historical facts, including statements that are preceded by, followed by, or that include such words as "estimate," "intend," "anticipate," "believe," "plan," "goal," "expect," "project," or similar statements, are forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the future results expressed or implied by such statements. For example, there can be no assurance that any new doses of Zenvia for PBA or DPN pain will be safe and effective, that any additional Phase III trial for Zenvia will be successful or that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will approve Zenvia for any indication or that the Company will meet clinical development timelines. There can be no assurances that Zenvia clinical development programs for indications other than PBA will move forward without additional capital or partnerships. Risks and uncertainties affecting the Company's financial condition and operations also include the risks set forth in AVANIR's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and from time-to-time in other publicly available information regarding the Company. Copies of this information are available from AVANIR upon request. AVANIR disclaims any intent to update these forward-looking statements.

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Mar 16, 2009