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|