Nektar retains pneumonia products partnered with Bayer and inhaled insulin IP.

Novartis is paying $115 million for some of Nektar Therapeutics’ pulmonary delivery assets, technology, and intellectual property. The move strengthens Nektar’s balance sheet and leaves it with a focus on pegylated technology. Novartis, on the other hand, will leverage the assets with candidates like those for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and cystic fibrosis.

The firms expect to complete the transaction by December 31. Novartis will gain full manufacturing and royalty rights to the Tobramycin inhalation powder (TIP) program, already partnered with Novartis. About 140 Nektar employees will transfer to Novartis as per the agreement.

Novartis will assume ownership of certain dry powder and liquid pulmonary formulation and manufacturing methods and assets including capital equipment and production-plant capital lease obligations. 

The deal does not include Bayer HealthCare-partnered programs: NKTR-061 (amikacin inhale) for pneumonia, scheduled to enter Phase III trials by year-end; royalties to Ciprofloxacin inhaled powder; and NKTR-063 (inhaled vancomycin), which should begin Phase II development early next year. Additionally, Nektar is hanging on to intellectual property specific to inhaled insulin, which had been developed, launched, and then pulled from the market with Pfizer.

“This agreement will allow us to focus our efforts on the development of novel therapeutics using our PEGylation and conjugate chemistry-based drug development platforms,” says Nektar president and CEO, Howard W. Robin. “The transaction also strengthens our balance sheet and significantly reduces expenses. It is a perfect example of our ability to monetize assets that had little future value for Nektar.”

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