Sucampo Pharmaceuticals has purchased rare disease drugs firm, Vtesse, for $200 million in cash and shares, to bolster its pipeline with the latter’s late-stage drug candidate, VTS-270, for treating Niemann-Pick Disease Type C1 (NPC-1).

VTS-270 is a mixture of 2-hydroxypropyl-ß-cyclodextrins (HPßCD), which the firms say is distinct from other HPßCD compositions. Vtesse has fully enrolled the registrational trial for VTS-270 in the treatment of NPC-1, which is being carried out at 20 clinical sites around the globe. Data from the study are expected in mid-2018.

Sucampo has paid for Vtesse without the need for external financing, using $170 million in cash, and the issuance of 2,782,678 Sucampo Class A common shares. Vtesse’s VTS-270 has been granted breakthrough therapy designation in the U.S., and orphan drug designation in the U.S. and EU. In the U.K., the MHRA has awarded the treatment Promising Innovative Medicine (“PIM”) designation. Vtesse scientists will work with Sucampo to continue global development and commercialization of the treatment, which the latter projects could feasibly be launched in 2019.

“We are extremely pleased to announce the acquisition of Vtesse,” stated Peter Greenleaf, Sucampo chairman and CEO. Sucampo brings significant capabilities to Vtesse and its program, and we believe that this acquisition not only has the potential to make an important difference in the lives of patients, their families, and the dedicated physicians who care for them, but also to create value for shareholders.”

“The Vtesse team remains fully committed to the NPC community and will provide continuity to the patients, families, and clinical sites in cooperation with Sucampo”, added Ben Machielse, president, founder, and CEO at Vtesse. “We recognize that Sucampo shares our commitment to the patients and caregivers of NPC and provides us with the best opportunity to bring this important treatment to NPC-1 patients in the U.S. and around the globe.”

Sucampo and Vtesse also plan to set up a jointly funded foundation to support NPC disease research. “At the time of Vtesse’s launch in January 2015, Vtesse’s original investors recognized the imperative of driving VTS-270 rapidly through clinical development to secure the data for regulatory approvals and to deliver the drug candidate to the NPC-1 community. Sucampo is a global partner that is fully behind the original mission of Vtesse and its investment group. We’re very proud to join their shareholders in establishing a foundation that will support further research of and awareness-building for NPC disease,” said David Mott, general partner, NEA, and chairman of the Vtesse board.

Sucampo’s own lead marketed product, Amitiza (lubiprostone), is a synthetic prostone analog, approved in various markets for treating chronic constipation in specified settings. Early clincal development of a sprinkle formulation of luiprostone is ongoing.