- German pharmaceutical provider Grünenthal has locked down a licensing deal with Astellas Pharma for a pain relief patch, the company announced Tuesday.
- The deal gives Grünenthal exclusive rights to market the treatment, called Qutenza, across Africa, the Middle East and Europe. In the latter of those regions, the deal includes the 28 countries that make up the European Union, as well as Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and some Eastern European countries.
- Qutenza is approved in the EU as a pain reliever for patients with pain related to peripheral nervous system damage, which often changes how the body perceives touch. When applied to affected areas, the patch administers capsaicin, a chemical that most people associate with the spiciness in peppers but that also can block nerves from transmitting pain signals back to the brain.
While financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, previous transactions regarding Qutenza and its market performance indicate the patch likely wasn't a big-ticket item.
For example, Acorda Therapeutics acquired Qutenza and another capsaicin-based pain treatment from NeurogesX, the products' creator, back in 2013 for $8 million.
At the time, the patch was netting about $2.6 million in annual sales. That revenue declined to $1 million in 2015, and Acorda said in its most recent 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that for "the foreseeable future we do not expect that sales of this product will materially contribute to our revenues," .
Astellas first acquired rights to the patch from NeurogesX back in 2009. The Japanense drugmaker, whose fiscal year ends March 31, said in its most recent annual filing that revenues from the treatment in Europe, Africa and the Middle East totaled €16 million ($17 million) in 2016.
"We have a clear strategy to further build our pain portfolio through in-house innovation and external acquisition," Grünenthal CEO Gabriel Baertschi said in a Dec. 12 statement. "Adding Qutenza is a perfect strategic fit and will broaden the options available to physicians, especially in localized neuropathic pain - an area of remaining high unmet need for patients."