Arena strikes a partnership in Asia
- San Diego-based biopharma Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has hooked up with Everest Medicines Limited to access the Asian markets for its clinical stage therapeutics ralinepag and etrasimod. C-Bridge Capital, a Chinese healthcare fund, provided Everest's $50 million Series A financing in October 2017 and set up the leadership team.
- Everest gains exclusive development and commercialization rights in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and South Korea, in return for an upfront payment of $12 million, and up to $212 million in development and commercial milestone payments. Arena will also receive up to low double-digit royalties on any annual sales post-approval of ralinepag and etrasimod.
- Both companies will collaborate on development on both products, and Everest will fund development and commercialization in its licensed regions.
The Chinese market, which is the second largest in the world by drug spending, is a very attractive one. However, it can be a challenging one for U.S. and European companies to access. Securing the okay to begin clinical trials can be difficult, and the route to regulatory approval has historically been lengthy. Things are beginning to change, with new policies being put in place.
One way to improve the possibilities of exploiting the Chinese market is to work with a partner who is established in the region.
"With new regulations in place in China to expedite approvals, a significant opportunity for ralinepag and etrasimod exists in early synchronization of development programs. Based on their development and commercialization expertise, as well as strategy for leveraging changes in the regulatory environment, we view Everest as the ideal partner to maximize the value of our drugs in the rapidly growing Chinese market," said Amit D. Munshi, President and CEO of Arena.
Arena, which had been struggling as an obesity company, shifted its focus this summer. Following a positive Phase 2 trial for ralinepag in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), Arena made the decision to push the drug forward into Phase 3 clinical trials. Ralinepag is an oral, next-generation, selective prostacyclin receptor agonist, but Arena hasn't confirmed when the next stage of trials are planned. The other product in the deal, etrasimod, is an S1P receptor modulator with potential in inflammatory and autoimmune disease. This is in clinical development for ulcerative colitis, pyoderma gangrenosum and primary biliary cholangitis.
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