A pharmacist sorts pills.
A pharmacist sorts pills. Photo by AP
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An Israeli drug company is taking its pill to treat schizophrenia to Europe.

The European Patent Office has informed BioLineRX that it will receive European patent rights on its new chemical salt compound BL – 1020, which it says can treat schizophrenia orally.

After the announcement, BioLine shares on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange jumped 5.7 percent, and shares have been trading at 70 percent more than the average daily trading volume for its share, with NIS 2.7 million's worth of share changing hands.

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness that affects roughly 1 percent of the population. The illness is characterized by hallucinations, inability to concentrate and low organizational capability. Many of those who suffer from schizophrenia also suffer from impaired cognitive capabilities which affect their ability to lead normal lives. The global pharmaceutical market for anti-psychotic medications has an estimated value of $20 billion.

BioLine's new European patent will give it exclusive rights to manufacture and sell the compound in Europe until 2026 and will extend by four years the patent that BioLine received in March of this year and that was set to expire in 2022.

The chemical compound BL – 1020 and its use in treating those who suffer from schizophrenia is already either approved or pending patent applications in the United States, Japan, Canada, Korea, Mexico, Israel, India, China and Australia. These patents and all future patent applications based on the intellectual property protected by this group of patents will expire in September 2022.

BioLine has also filed several complementary patent applications around the globe for BL -1020's crystalline form and for its use for in improving cognitive function. These patents, if approved, will be in force until December 2030.

In July 2011, BioLine began the second and third stage clinical trials for the new compound. The trials, which have been dubbed Clarity, are being conducted to determine BL -1020's anti-psychotic properties as well as its effectiveness and safety in improving cognitive function.

A trial group of 450 schizophrenics were put on two trials, one lasting six weeks and the other lasting 24 weeks. The trial will compare the drug's effectiveness with that of Risperidone, currently considered one of the most potent drugs for treating schizophrenia on the market.

In the trials conducted up until now, BL – 1020 has shown itself to be both safe and effective in treating the symptoms of schizophrenia.