- Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. has linked up with a Massachusetts-based medical device maker to develop a "needle-free" approach to administering biologics, with plans to initially test the delivery system on its top-selling drug.
- Instead of a needle, Portal Instruments Inc.'s device uses pressurized liquids for drug delivery. Takeda finds the technology promising, according to a Tuesday statement, and is supplying an upfront payment plus as much as $100 million in potential milestone and royalty payments to get in on developing and commercializing it.
- Through their collaboration, the companies will evaluate Portal's device across a range of Takeda's investigational and marketed biologics. First up is the ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD) drug Entyvio (vedolizumab).
Takeda is almost through a $725 million dollar restructuring effort focused on fleshing out R&D in the areas of central nervous system, gastroenterology and oncology. Collaborations have been an essential tool in that restructuring, as Takeda has inked deals with Nektar Therapeutics in immuno-oncology, Samsung Bioepis Co. Ltd. in novel biologics and AstraZeneca plc in Parkinson's over the last year.
Yet in spite of pipeline and portfolio expansions, Takeda continues to face the same industry hurdles that all pharmas do. Patient adherence, for one, has long been an issue for drugmakers — and particularly for those developing biologics, many of which are administered intravenously or subcutaneously rather than by pill (a perennial favorite among patients). That's where Portal is looking to offer some relief.
"Current modes of injection administration cause patient anxiety as it requires attention to detail, and can be painful especially as it requires the needle to be in the patient for 10-20 seconds to administer the complete dose," Portal states on its website. "As a consequence, treatment adherence rates for biologics are less than optimal and thought to be in the 40% to 70% range depending on the indication."
Adding a needle-free delivery method for its biologics could spruce up Takeda's growing revenues even further. The Japanese pharma reported ¥881.4 billion (about $7.8 billion) during the first half of its 2017 fiscal year, which starts in April.
During that period, Entyvio (vedolizumab) served as the company's top-performer, raking in sales of $592 million that represented growth of nearly 40% year over year. Takeda is currently assessing the efficacy and safety of a subcutaneous version of the drug in a Phase 3 study of adults with moderate to severe UC or CD.
"There is a need for options to keep improving the experience for patients with life-long, chronic conditions that are managed with the intravenous infusions of biologic medicines," Stefan Koenig, global program & brand lead at Takeda, said in the Nov. 7 statement.