Unpartnered hep C assets to attract attention

Analysis

ZymoGenetics’ potential $1.1bn deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb over a phase I interferon candidate and the recent surge in Anadys Pharmaceuticals’ share price on the back of positive phase Ib data highlights the excitement that currently exists within the hepatitis C field, even for products at such an early stage of development.

With such a buzz in the sector, EP Vantage has reviewed pipeline data from EvaluatePharma which reveals that there are currently 170 products in active development to treat hepatitis C. Of these, 52 pre-clinical or clinical stage candidates, being developed by no fewer than 45 separate companies, have been identified as potential partnering opportunities (See table below).

The following analysis excludes products already partnered in the major pharmaceutical markets (USA and Europe) and those in development by big and mid-cap pharma companies that we assume would normally develop and commercialise the product themselves.

With very little cash available for small companies to pursue grander ambitions involving commercialisation, parties looking for a product to take to the market have plenty to chose from. Meanwhile, those looking for a partner can take heart from ZymoGenetics' deal, which despite the plethora of potential candidates, managed to negotiate very favourable terms (Bristol-Myers, Zymo deal shows interest in hep C remains high, January 13, 2009).

Anadys provided a perfect example of the optimism that exists for promising candidates, with the share price doubling on the back of very early stage data (Anadys surges on early hepatitis C data, January 12, 2009).

Other companies that have expressed the desire to partner include Flamel Technologies, with worldwide rights to its phase II interferon alpha candidate up for grabs, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which is looking for a US partner for its phase II nucleoside analogue taribavirin.

Vertex, which sold ex-US rights to its lead hepatitis C candidate telaprevir to Johnson & Johnson for $165m upfront in 2006, has a next-generation protease inhibitor in phase I trials, VX-500. Whilst the company's strategy appears to be to go it alone in the US, selling rights elsewhere to its follow-on asset would seem to be a strong possibility.

The Bristol-Myers Squibb and ZymoGenetics deal delivered the second-largest upfront payment seen across all single-product phase I deals over the last three years, whilst Vertex’s deal with J&J ranks as the biggest upfront payment for any phase II deal. The table below shows that there is plenty of scope for further high value partnerships.

Unpartnered hepatitis C treatment drugs in clinical development
Current Phase Product Pharmacological Class Company Technology Originator
           
Phase II SCV-07 Anti-infective SciClone Pharmaceuticals Small molecule chemistry Verta
  HCV-I.E.T Anti-viral Transition Therapeutics Recombinant product Transition Therapeutics
  Debio-025 (UNIL-025) Cyclophillin inhibitor Debiopharm Small molecule chemistry Debiopharm
  GI-5005 Hepatitis C vaccine GlobeImmune Bioengineered vaccine GlobeImmune
  IFN-alpha-XL Interferon alpha Flamel Technologies Recombinant product Flamel Technologies
  Taribavirin Nucleoside analogue Valeant Pharmaceuticals Small molecule chemistry Valeant Pharmaceuticals
  IPH 1101 T cell regulator Innate Pharma Small molecule chemistry INSERM
  VCH-759 Hepatitis C polymerase inhibitor ViroChem Pharma Small molecule chemistry ViroChem Pharma
  VCH-916 Hepatitis C polymerase inhibitor ViroChem Pharma Small molecule chemistry ViroChem Pharma
           
Phase I ONO-4538 / MDX-1106 Anti-PD-1 MAb Medarex Monoclonal antibody Ono Pharmaceutical
  Bavituximab Anti-PS MAb Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Monoclonal antibody University of Texas
  EHC18 Hepatitis C agent Enzo Biochem Recombinant product Enzo Biochem
  ANA598 Hepatitis C polymerase inhibitor Anadys Pharmaceuticals Small molecule chemistry Anadys Pharmaceuticals
  PHX1766 Hepatitis C protease inhibitor Phenomix Small molecule chemistry Phenomix
  HCV Vaccine Hepatitis C vaccine Pevion Biotech Bioengineered vaccine Pevion Biotech
  CYT 107 IL-7 Cytheris Recombinant product Cytheris
  Belerofon Interferon alpha Nautilus Biotech Other biotechnology product Nautilus Biotech
  P1101 Interferon alpha PharmaEssentia Recombinant product PharmaEssentia
  VX-500 Protease inhibitor Vertex Pharmaceuticals Small molecule chemistry Vertex Pharmaceuticals
  ANA773 TLR7 agonist Anadys Pharmaceuticals Small molecule chemistry Valeant Pharmaceuticals
  IMO-2125 TLR9 agonist Idera Pharmaceuticals Other biotechnology product Idera Pharmaceuticals
  VCH-222  Hepatitis C polymerase inhibitor ViroChem Pharma Small molecule chemistry ViroChem Pharma

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