News Article

Novartis licenses rights to Enanta's experimental hepatitis C drug in $440-million deal
Date: Feb 21, 2012
Author: Matthew Dennis
Source: firstwordpharma ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: Endocyte Inc of West Lafayette, IN

Novartis licensed global rights to Enanta Pharmaceuticals' experimental hepatitis C drug EDP-239 in a deal potentially worth as much as $440 million, Enanta announced Tuesday.

Under the agreed terms, Novartis will make an upfront payment of $34 million to Enanta for rights to the NS5A inhibitor, with the latter eligible to receive milestone payments of up to $406 million. In addition, Enanta stands to receive tiered double-digit royalties on worldwide product sales and retains co-detail rights in the US. Novartis will pay for all development, manufacturing and marketing of EDP-239, and will also fund Enanta's drug discovery efforts on certain additional compounds targeting NS5A.

Enanta CEO Jay Luly remarked "we believe EDP-239 has great potential as a potent ingredient in combination drug therapy, and our preclinical studies have demonstrated high potency against multiple genotypes of the virus." The drug has received IND approval from the FDA.

Luly noted that current hepatitis C treatments can cure the disease in about 70 percent of patients, and Novartis and Enanta hope to equal or exceed this performance, while eliminating the need for interferon. "We're in the hunt behind Vertex with a drug that's safer, easier to use, and more efficacious, we believe," Luly added. Last year, regulators in the US and Europe approved Vertex Pharmaceuticals' Incivek (telaprevir) for the treatment of adults with hepatitis C.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, Incivek, which is also known as Incivo, posted sales of $456.8 million.