Idorsia pairs with Neurocrine in potential $400 million epilepsy drug deal


ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss biotech group Idorsia on Friday lifted the lid off a 2019 deal for its investigational epilepsy medicine, revealing the pact that is potentially worth more than $400 million is with U.S.-based Neurocrine Biosciences.

Last year, Idorsia got a $5 million payment for a licensing option for ACT-709478, but kept Neurocrine’s identity a secret.

Their agreement calls for Idorsia to get $45 million in cash, $7 million for research and up to $365 million in development and regulatory milestone payments if Neurocrine exercises its option within 30 days of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s accepting an investigational new drug application that is now expected for mid-2020.

Royalties are also in the offing if ACT-709478 makes it to market.

Idorsia Chief Executive Jean-Paul Clozel is striking agreements with partners like Neurocrine, a small drugmaker based in San Diego, for some of his pipeline’s dozen investigational medicines.

He is augmenting his coffers as he tries to build Idorsia into another Actelion, the Swiss biotech Clozel sold in 2017 to Johnson & Johnson for $30 billion.

ACT-709478, designed to target calcium channels throughout the central nervous system believed to play a role in epilepsy, has completed an early safety study in healthy adults and is slated to start a Phase 2 trial in rare paediatric epilepsy this year.

“We are excited to leverage the scientific expertise of Idorsia in T-type calcium channel inhibition to potentially advance a Phase 2 ready compound to help people suffering from epilepsy,” Neurocrine CEO Kevin Gorman said in a statement.

Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Michael Shields