Vifor Pharma said today it has licensed rights to commercialize ChemoCentryx’s Phase III–ready candidate CCX168 for orphan and rare renal diseases in Europe, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, and South Korea.

The agreement would generate at least $85 million, plus milestone payments and royalties, for ChemoCentryx. Until now, the company has been developing CCX168 for conditions that include antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis (AAV)—a disease now treated with nonspecific immuno-suppressants (cyclophosphamide or rituximab) combined with high-dose corticosteroid administration.

Vifor Pharma said a Phase III study of CCX168 in AAV is expected to begin later this year. CCX168 is also in development for orphan and rare renal diseases such as atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) and immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy. CCX168 has obtained orphan drug status in the U.S. and Europe.

“CCX168 has the potential to address major unmet medical needs of patients in a number of different orphan indications, including AAV,” Vifor Pharma CEO Søren Tulstrup said in a statement.

Vifor Pharma has agreed to pay ChemoCentryx $60 million cash upfront and a $25 million equity investment to purchase ChemoCentryx common stock at $ 7.50 per share. That’s more than triple Monday’s closing price of $2.10 a share—although the share price jumped roughly $1 to $3.08 this morning as of 9:54 a.m., following the announcement of the agreement.

ChemoCentryx will be eligible to receive additional payments from Vifor Pharma tied to achieving regulatory and sales-based milestones, as well as tiered double-digit royalties on net sales of CCX168 in the territories covered by the agreement.

The agreement is the first step of a potentially larger kidney health alliance, as it also gives Vifor Pharma an exclusive option to negotiate a worldwide license agreement for CCX140, ChemoCentryx’s orally administered inhibitor of the chemokine receptor known as CCR2. CCX140 is ChemoCentryx’ lead drug candidate in its chronic kidney disease program and has successfully completed a Phase II, placebo-controlled clinical trial in patients with diabetic nephropathy.

Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, Vifor Pharma is a company of the Galenica Group specializing in developing pharmaceutical products for the treatment of iron deficiency. The company markets prescription medicines as well as over-the-counter products.

ChemoCentryx President and CEO Thomas J. Schall, Ph.D., added that Vifor Pharma’s specialty in renal medicines, including access to a large patient database and nephrology-focused commercial expertise, “will be a valuable resource as we develop and commercialize CCX168.”

“We believe that this partnership further validates our approach to blocking chemoattractant receptors such as C5aR and CCR2 in the inflammatory processes in several important diseases,” Dr. Schall said.








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