Alexion bets $1.4B on Portola and its laggard bleeding drug Andexxa

Fiercepharma | May 05, 2020

Alexion has made no secret of its plan to diversify beyond its blockbuster rare disease franchise. Now, the company has taken a flier out on a disappointing drug that targets severe bleeding—and it's hoping to parlay its hospital contacts into a sales boost that'll appease unruly investors. Alexion agreed to buy Portola Pharmaceuticals and its sole approved medicine, anticoagulant reversal agent Andexxa, in a deal valued at around $1.4 billion, the drugmakers said Monday. That's $18 per share in cash—a 131% premium on Portola's Monday closing price of $7.76 per share. The Portola buyout will take Alexion beyond a rare-disease portfolio dominated by blockbuster C5-inhibitor Soliris and follow-up drug Ultomiris. The centerpiece of the deal is a bleeding reversal agent, Andexxa, designed for patients using two common anticoagulant drugs, Xarelto and Eliquis. So far, Andexxa has delivered disappointing sales, but Alexion still sees promise—even if it'll take a while for that promise to pay off.

Spotlight

The future of every pharmaceutical company is dependent on its efforts to find new ways to increase revenue, reduce costs, and reduce the risk of catastrophic product recalls. Labeling, artwork management, and packaging are not usually considered pathways to company growth. It’s easy to get distracted by short-term plans such as hiring more sales consultants and cutting budgets.

Spotlight

The future of every pharmaceutical company is dependent on its efforts to find new ways to increase revenue, reduce costs, and reduce the risk of catastrophic product recalls. Labeling, artwork management, and packaging are not usually considered pathways to company growth. It’s easy to get distracted by short-term plans such as hiring more sales consultants and cutting budgets.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

NeuroBo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Dong-A ST Co. Ltd. Announce Strategic Collaboration

NeuroBo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. | September 16, 2022

NeuroBo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Dong-A ST Co., Ltd. announced that they have entered into a conditional exclusive license agreement for NeuroBo to develop and commercialize DA-1241 and DA-1726, which are currently being evaluated for the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis obesity and type 2 diabetes. DA-1241 is a novel G-Protein-Coupled Receptor 119 agonist, which promotes the release of key gut peptides GLP-1, GIP and PYY, which, in turn, play an important role in glucose metabolism, lipid metabolism and weight loss. DA-1241 is a synthetic, selective small molecule, suitable for oral administration and has been shown to be well tolerated in phase 1 studies. Further, its multimodal mechanism appears to induce strong anti-NASH effects, supported by potential best-in-class efficacy, as demonstrated in pre-clinical studies. DA-1726 is a novel oxyntomodulin analogue functioning as a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor and glucagon receptor dual agonist. OXM is a naturally-occurring, 37-amino acid peptide hormone that is released from the gut after ingestion of a meal, activating both the GLP-1 and glucagon receptors, prompting reduced food intake as well as an increase in energy expenditure, potentially resulting in superior body weight loss compared to selective GLP-1 receptor agonists. The beneficial effects of this dual mechanism of DA-1726 on weight loss compared to selective GLP-1 activity has been demonstrated in animal models. Additionally, DA-1726 has shown the ability to improve hepatic steatosis, inflammation and fibrosis when compared to the GLP-1 agonist, semaglutide in these same models. Under the license agreement, NeuroBo will be responsible for global development, regulatory and commercial activities other than for certain Asian-Pacific geographies. Dong-A will manufacture clinical supplies and initial commercial supplies of the product at its manufacturing facility in Korea. "The acquisition of these two cardiometabolic assets marks a seismic shift for NeuroBo, providing us with a highly promising, diversified pipeline with several upcoming value inflection points in the NASH and obesity space -- areas with enormous market opportunity," stated Gil Price, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of NeuroBo. "Through this agreement, Dong-A, one of our largest shareholders, has reaffirmed its commitment to remain a long-term strategic partner of NeuroBo. Dong-A is dedicated to our success and we are grateful it has also committed to provide continued support to facilitate the clinical development of the licensed assets. Once the transaction has closed, which is contingent upon certain closing conditions, we will be uniquely positioned to initiate a phase 2a study of DA-1241 in NASH in the first half of 2023, with data expected in the second half of 2024. We also intend to initiate a phase 1a safety study of DA-1726 in the first half of 2023, for which data is expected in the second half of 2023. We are truly excited about the prospects of NeuroBo as we transition to a cardiometabolic company across the large and growing markets of obesity and NASH." "We are highly enthusiastic about this opportunity to accelerate development of our novel treatments in partnership with NeuroBo. Dong-A plans to continue to strengthen its R&D capability and to seek additional collaboration opportunities to establish ourselves in the US market", Min Young Kim, Chief Executive Officer of Dong-A About the Proposed Licensing Transaction Under the terms of the license agreement, Dong-A will receive an upfront payment of $22 million in Series A convertible preferred stock, which will automatically convert into common stock upon receipt of requisite stockholder approval, and will be eligible to receive commercial- and regulatory-based milestone payments, dependent upon the achievement of specific regulatory and commercial developments. Dong-A will also be entitled to single digit royalties on net sales of the two assets. Dong-A has also agreed to commit $15,000,000 toward financing the assets, subject to NeuroBo's ability to obtain additional financing under the terms of the license agreement. The license agreement has been approved by the board of directors of NeuroBo. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2022, subject to obtaining third party financing for development of the assets and other customary closing conditions. About NeuroBo Pharmaceuticals NeuroBo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is a clinical-stage biotechnology company historically focused on therapies for neurodegenerative, infectious, and, upon closing of the license agreement, cardiometabolic diseases. Its therapeutics programs currently include ANA001, an oral niclosamide formulation, which is in Phase 2/3 clinical trials to treat patients with moderate coronavirus disease (COVID-19); NB-01 for the treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy; NB-02 for the treatment of symptoms of cognitive impairment and to modify the progression of neurodegenerative diseases associated with the malfunction of tau protein; and gemcabene currently being assessed as an acute treatment for COVID-19 in combination with ANA001. NeuroBo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. About Dong-A Dong-A ST Co. is a leading healthcare company in South Korea with a business focus on developing, manufacturing and distributing pharmaceutical products and medical devices worldwide. Dong-A has successfully developed and marketed several products globally and continues to develop prospective clinical candidates. Dong-A also provides licensed-in and licensed-out drugs, and medical devices, including high-technology medical devices, custom-made products, and sets of artificial cardiac circuits for use in open-heart surgery. Dong-A has over 5,500 employees including 2,300 in the pharmaceutical sector. Dong-A was founded in 1932 and is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea.

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PHARMA TECH

European Medicines Agency Accepts Astellas' Marketing Authorization Application for Fezolinetant

Astellas Pharma Inc. | September 30, 2022

Astellas Pharma Inc. announced the European Medicines Agency has accepted for regulatory review the company's marketing authorization application for fezolinetant, an investigational oral, nonhormonal compound seeking approval for the treatment of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause. VMS, characterized by hot flashes and/or night sweats, are common symptoms of menopause.1,2 "More than half of women 40 to 64 years of age experience hot flashes during menopause, with limited nonhormonal treatment options. The EMA's acceptance of our MAA for fezolinetant brings us one step closer to advancing a potential first-in-class nonhormonal treatment option for women in Europe who experience VMS associated with menopause, similar to the FDA acceptance of our NDA for women in the U.S." Ahsan Arozullah, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Vice President and Head of Development Therapeutic Areas, Astellas The MAA is supported by results from the BRIGHT SKY™ program, which included three Phase 3 clinical trials that collectively enrolled over 2,800 women with VMS across Europe, the U.S. and Canada. Results from the SKYLIGHT 1™ and SKYLIGHT 2™ pivotal trials characterize the efficacy and safety of fezolinetant for the treatment of moderate to severe VMS associated with menopause. Data from the SKYLIGHT 4™ safety study further characterizes the long-term safety profile of fezolinetant. Within the MAA, Astellas proposes a 45 mg daily dose, which is subject to the EMA's review. Fezolinetant is an investigational nonhormonal selective neurokinin 3 receptor antagonist. The safety and efficacy of fezolinetant are under investigation and have not been established. This acceptance will have no impact on Astellas' financial forecasts of the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2023. About the BRIGHT SKY™ Phase 3 Program The BRIGHT SKY pivotal trials, SKYLIGHT 1™ and SKYLIGHT 2™ enrolled over 1,000 women with moderate to severe VMS. The trials are double-blinded, placebo-controlled for the first 12 weeks followed by a 40-week treatment extension period. Women were enrolled at over 180 sites within the U.S., Canada and Europe. SKYLIGHT 4™ (NCT04003389) is a 52-week double-blinded, placebo-controlled study designed to investigate the long-term safety of fezolinetant. For SKYLIGHT 4, over 1,800 women with VMS were enrolled at over 180 sites within the U.S., Canada and Europe. About VMS Associated with Menopause VMS, characterized by hot flashes and/or night sweats, are common symptoms of menopause.1,2 Worldwide, more than half of women 40 to 64 years of age experience VMS with rates in Europe ranging from 56% to 97%.3,4,5 The prevalence of moderate to severe VMS in postmenopausal women in Europe has been reported at 40%.6 VMS can have a disruptive impact on women's daily activities and overall quality of life.1 About Fezolinetant Fezolinetant is an investigational oral, nonhormonal therapy in clinical development for the treatment of moderate to severe VMS associated with menopause. Fezolinetant works by blocking neurokinin B (NKB) binding on the kisspeptin/neurokinin/dynorphin (KNDy) neuron to moderate neuronal activity in the thermoregulatory center of the brain (the hypothalamus) to reduce the frequency and severity of moderate to severe VMS associated with menopause.7,8,9 The safety and efficacy of fezolinetant are under investigation and have not been established. There is no guarantee the agent will receive regulatory approval or become commercially available for the uses being investigated. About Astellas Astellas Pharma Inc. is a pharmaceutical company conducting business in more than 70 countries around the world. We are promoting the Focus Area Approach that is designed to identify opportunities for the continuous creation of new drugs to address diseases with high unmet medical needs by focusing on Biology and Modality. Furthermore, we are also looking beyond our foundational Rx focus to create Rx+® healthcare solutions that combine our expertise and knowledge with cutting-edge technology in different fields of external partners. Through these efforts, Astellas stands on the forefront of healthcare change to turn innovative science into value for patients.

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PHARMA TECH

Sirona Biochem Signs International Partnership Agreement with Wanbang Biopharmaceuticals

Sirona Biochem Corp. | November 28, 2022

Sirona Biochem Corp. announces that, subsequent to the LOI, Sirona and Wanbang Biopharmaceuticals have signed an expanded, international partnership agreement to collaborate on licencing Sirona’s SGLT2 inhibitor, TFC-039, as a pharmaceutical treatment in both animal and human health. The agreement adds human health to the partnership as a result of new licencing opportunities currently in due diligence. Wanbang and Sirona initially signed a licensing agreement for TFC-039, whereby Wanbang obtained the rights to develop the compound as a diabetes treatment in China and Sirona retained the global rights. Sirona has since been in discussions with animal health companies to advance TFC-039 as a treatment for diabetes and chronic kidney disease in companion animals. SGLT2 inhibitors provide an opportunity to treat inflicted animals with an oral medication as opposed to the traditional method of daily insulin injections. More recently, Sirona has entered into due diligence with a large pharmaceutical company with a regional interest in developing the compound for human diabetes. Together, Sirona and Wanbang share extensive knowledge and scientific results of TFC-039. Partnering will significantly increase the speed to third-party partnerships and commercialization. The shared data spans over 12 years of research and development, and includes in vitro and in vivo preclinical work, multiple clinical studies, advanced manufacturing process development and the ability to commercially manufacture TFC-039. “We have a long-standing relationship with Wanbang and are excited to combine our two companies’ expertise to license TFC-039. Wanbang has invested millions of dollars into the clinical stage research and development of the manufacturing processes for TFC-039. These pieces of data are critical to large organizations and will greatly increase the opportunities to move forward. The probability of a successful licensing agreement has been made much stronger by leveraging our alliance with Wanbang. We have had a successful year building Sirona’s pipeline, with positive movement on all projects and we’re looking forward to continuing this success with our SGLT2 inhibitor as well as our antiviral and anti-aging projects in 2023.” Dr. Howard Verrico, CEO About Wanbang Biopharmaceuticals and Fosun Pharmaceuticals Wanbang Biopharmaceuticals develops, manufactures, and markets drugs with indications for chronic disease treatment, antibiotics, and other endocrine diseases in China. Founded in 1981, the company is headquartered in Xuzhou, China, and is a subsidiary of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group. Fosun is a leader in the pharmaceutical industry and is regarded as one of the top five domestic pharmaceutical companies in China. About Sirona Biochem Corp. Sirona Biochem is a cosmetic ingredient and drug discovery company with a proprietary platform technology. Sirona specializes in stabilizing carbohydrate molecules with the goal of improving efficacy and safety. New compounds are patented for maximum revenue potential. Sirona’s compounds are licensed to leading companies around the world in return for licensing fees, milestone fees and ongoing royalty payments. Sirona’s laboratory, TFChem, is located in France and is the recipient of multiple French national scientific awards and European Union and French government grants.

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