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GEN News Highlights : Feb 21, 2012

Novartis Pays Enanta $34M Up Front for Worldwide Rights to HCV NS5A Inhibitors

Anti-infectives firm could receive $406 million in milestones plus royalties.

Novartis is paying Enanta Pharmaceuticals $34 million up front for worldwide rights to develop and commercialize the latter’s lead HCV NS5A inhibitor candidate, EDP-239. Enanta could receive up to $406 million in clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones plus tiered double-digit royalties on sales and retains co-detail rights in the U.S.

Under terms of the deal Novartis will shoulder all costs associated with the development, manufacture, and commercialization of EDP-239. It will also provide Enanta with funding for the discovery of additional compounds targeting NS5A.

NS5A is a nonstructural viral protein that is critical for viral replication. Enanta says its EDP-239 inhibitor has demonstrated high potency against multiple HCV genotypes in vitro, and its preclinical pharmacokinetic profile supports the potential for once-daily dosing in humans.

Anti-infectives specialist Enanta is developing HCV protease, polymerase, and cyclophilin-based inhibitors and has generated a class of macrolide antibiotics, called bicyclolides, which it claims can overcome bacterial resistance. The firm teamed up with Abbott in 2006 to develop and commercialize HCV HS3 and NS3/4A protease inhibitors through a $57 million cash and equity investment deal that also gives its partner access to drug discovery capabilities in the field of HCV NS3 and NS3/4A protease inhibitor field. Enanta’s HCV polymerase and cyclophilin programs are ongoing in house.

Enanta’s bicyclolide program is focused on the development of oral broad-spectrum candidates against community MRSA and community-acquired respiratory tract infections caused by pathogens including S. pneumonia, S. aureus, S. pyogenes, and H. influenza as well as a hospital-acquired MRSA and VRE.