- In May, Amgen severed its partnership with AstraZeneca (AZ) on the development of brodalumab, an IL-17 antibody, which is being developed to treat moderate-to-severe psoriasis.
- Valeant, AZ's new partner, is picking up where Amgen left off with brodalumab.
- Valeant will pay AZ $100 million upfront, followed by $170 million for hitting prelaunch milestones and up to $175 million following launch.
It was big news at the end of May when researchers working on brodalumab, which was already in late-stage trials, observed suicidal thoughts in subjects taking the drug. At that point, citing safety concerns, Amgen decided to end its collaboration with AZ.
Nonetheless, AZ vowed to continue development until it could find a new partner. Now, Valeant has stepped in to provide development funding and help support regulatory submissions in both the US and the EU during Q4 2015.
Valeant's CEO, Michael J. Pearson and Pascal Soriot, CEO of AZ, seem to have formed a partnership bolstered by Pearson's belief in brodalumab's potential. Nonetheless despite all of the experience, the enthusiasm and solid efficacy results in mid-term trials, brodalumab could face hurdles during the regulatory process because of evidence of drug-related suicidal ideation.
Valeant and AZ are managed by highly experienced teams with a great deal of R&D experience, and they clearly have a plan. Assuming it works, the pay-off could be significant. Currently the psoriasis market is worth roughly $9 billion, based on 2014 figures, but analysts at Deutsche Bank estimate that the market will grow to $14 billion by 2023.