- British specialty pharma Indivior plc on Thursday inked a small licensing deal with C4X Discovery Holdings plc, paying $10 million upfront to acquire global rights from C4X to a preclinical candidate for addiction treatment.
- The experimental compound in question blocks a molecule pathway known as OX1, which Indivior believes could be a potential mechanism to reduce drug-seeking behavior and help prevent relapses.
- Indivior currently markets Sublocade, a treatment for opioid use disorder, in the U.S. and has secured approval in France for a formulation of the rescue medication naloxone. A recent court ruling in the U.S., however, could threaten revenues from Indivior's Suboxone Film brand.
Indivior's deal with C4X is similar to a licensing agreement the specialty drugmaker inked in January with Addex Therapeutics Ltd. Both feature small upfront payments in return for rights to an early preclinical candidate for treating addiction.
Padding the company's preclinical pipeline will do little, however, to dispel worries around the looming threat of generic competition to the company's Suboxone Film product. Copycat versions of Suboxone tablets already exist and have crimped revenues from the franchise; further brand erosion from cheap film generics could damage Indivior's business even more.
Earlier this month, a U.S. district court ruled Alvogen Inc.'s generic film copy didn't infringe upon patents held by Indivior, potentially opening the door for a generic launch. The Food and Drug Administration, however, hasn't granted Alvogen an approval for its version and Indivior considers any immediate launch as "at risk."
While that potential pain clouds Indivior's near term outlook, the company aims to position itself as a leading developer of treatments for addiction.
Approval and launch of Sublocade may help that goal, as will building out a pipeline that lists only one wholly clinical-stage asset (RBP-7000 for schizophrenia has been submitted to regulators).
Indivior is bullish on C4X's preclinical asset, touting it as a promising candidate.
"The OX1 pathway is a key molecular pathway we are targeting for development and is particularly attractive to us for its potential as a non-narcotic mechanism for treating and preventing relapse across a broad range of substance use disorders," said Indivior CEO Shaun Thaxter in a March 29 statement.