Sanofi in $675 million deal to expand multiple sclerosis franchise

French pharma major Sanofi (Euronext: SAN), which already has two blockbuster multiple sclerosis (MS) drugs in the form of Aubagio (teriflunomide) and Lemtrada (alemtuzumab), has entered into a new multi-million dollar deal to acquire rights to another MS candidate to expand its portfolio.

Sanofi will develop USA privately-held biotech firm Principia Biopharma's experimental oral treatment that shows promise in MS and, potentially, other central nervous system (CNS) diseases.

Under the license agreement signed this week, Sanofi will develop Principia's Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor (PRN2246), which was designed to access the brain and spinal cord by crossing the blood-brain barrier and impact immune cell and brain cell signalling. PRN2246 is currently in clinical development.

Milestone of up to $765 million offered

Under the terms of the agreement, Principia will grant Sanofi an exclusive, worldwide license to develop and commercialize PRN2246. Sanofi will pay Principia a $40 million upfront payment, future milestone payments that could total $765 million and royalties on product sales. Principia has the option to co-fund Phase III development, in exchange for either increased royalties on worldwide product sales or a profit and loss sharing arrangement in the USA

"Our agreement with Principia is an example of Sanofi's strategic commitment to build our drug discovery and development pipeline in MS and neurological diseases," says Rita Balice-Gordon, global head of MS/neuroscience therapeutic research area at Sanofi. "Complementing our own internal R&D expertise, external relationships like this may accelerate delivery of new treatments to patients living with these serious diseases," she added.

"Sanofi is an ideal partner for PRN2246. The agreement allows Principia to maximize the BTK opportunity in neurology with a strong partner for PRN2246 while focusing internal resources on our lead BTK inhibitor in another therapeutic area," said Martin Babler, chief executive of Principia Biopharma. "PRN2246 is a blood brain barrier crossing, highly potent BTK inhibitor, that we believe is especially well suited for the treatment of MS and other neurological disorders."

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2017, subject to customary regulatory approvals.


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