- Purdue Pharma, best known for its opioid painkiller OxyContin, on Monday announced a licensing deal with biotech Exicure, securing exclusive rights to a developmental psoriasis treatment as part of an effort to diversify.
- Per the deal, Purdue will pay an undisclosed upfront payment to Exicure, along with an equity investment in the Illinois-based company. Add in associated milestone payments and total deal value could stretch as high as $790 million — if all goes to plan.
- In return, Purdue gains global rights to AST-005, a topical psoriasis drug which targets the pro-inflammatory tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and to three other collaboration targets using Exicure's gene regulation agents.
Purdue Pharma has come under fire as the extent of the opioid abuse crisis in the U.S. became more apparent over the past year and a half.
While Purdue makes several laxatives and antiseptic drugs, its business is driven by its portfolio of pain drugs, headlined by powerful oxycodone-based OxyContin. A detailed investigation by the Los Angeles Times this year accused the company of knowingly mis-marketing OxyContin and pushing doctors to prescribe the drug at stronger doses and in shorter intervals.
Purdue has refuted the paper's claims, calling the story "long on anecdote and short on facts."
Still, under CEO Mark Timney, Purdue has sought to balance its pain portfolio with forays into other therapeutic areas.
"We are focused on pain, but I plan to diversify our portfolio," Timney said at the BIO CEO conference in February. "We want to do two, three, four deals per year for the next several years."
In addition to Monday's deal with Exicure, Purdue recently unveiled a collaboration with AnaBios Corp. to develop non-opiod, non-NSAID treatments for chronic pain. And last year, Purdue teamed up with the U.S. subsidiary of Japanese drugmaker Eisai to develop and commercialize a treatment for insomnia.