Collaboration combats cystic fibrosis

Forest acquires rights from Germany’s Grunenthal for CF treatment, prevention

Lori Lesko
AACHEN, Germany—In the second strategic collaboration forgedin December between family-owned drugmaker The Grunenthal Group, and NewYork-headquartered biotech Forest Laboratories Inc., Forest acquired all rightscurrently held by Grunenthal for colistin and all rights previously licensed byForest to Grunenthal for colobreathe.
 
Both are treatments for cystic fibrosis(CF), an inherited disease with no cure.
Grunenthal divested the colistin franchise as part of itsstrategy to focus its business on its core pain franchise. Financial details ofthe agreement were not disclosed, according to the Dec. 20 joint announcement.
 
Two weeks earlier, on Dec. 6, Forest bought co-developmentand commercialization rights to Grunenthal's novel oral small-moleculeanalgesic, GRT 6005, and its follow-on compound, GRT 6006. In another recentdivestment, the German firm sold its portfolio of prescription oralcontraceptives to Hungary's largest drugmaker, Gedeon Richter, in a deal worthan estimated $329 million.
 
Howard Solomon, chairman and CEO of Forest, says he is"pleased to have reached this agreement with Grunenthal on the heels of therecently announced collaboration between our two companies in the area ofpain." Solomon believes the deal is a win-win for Forest by boosting its CFpipeline—and its commercial potential.
 
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about30,000 people in the United States have CF, one of the most common inheriteddiseases among Caucasians. About 1,000 new cases of CF are diagnosed each year,and about 12 million Americans are carriers of a faulty CF gene.
 
The goals of CF treatment are to prevent and control lunginfections; loosen and remove thick, sticky mucus from the lungs; prevent ortreat blockages in the intestines; provide enough nutrition; and preventdehydration.
 
Colobreathe is a novel dry powder inhaler containingcolistin developed by Forest and currently being reviewed by the EuropeanMedicines Agency (EMA).
Colistin is an antibiotic used to treat the principalbacterial infections in CF patients and belongs to a class of antibioticscalled polymyxins. It can be used to treat chest infections in people with CFwhen these are caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Colistin is usually administered to these patientsby inhalation.
 
"Acquiring colistin from Grunenthal is a strategic fit forForest because it is a first step to expand our commercial capabilities inEurope, in addition to our existing presence in the UK and Ireland," Solomonsays. "This acquisition also strengthens our presence in the cystic fibrosismarket in Europe which is further enhanced by regaining all rights tocolobreathe, a novel dry powder formulation of colistin we have developed andpreviously licensed to Grunenthal, and which after approval, will be availableto cystic fibrosis patients across Europe."
 
Grunenthal is also buoyed by the deal, with an eye towardthe future.
Kira Goertz, Grunenthal's vice president of corporatecommunications, tells ddn, "Grunenthal'sobjective is to become the most patient-centric company and be a leader intherapy innovation based on its unique position in pain."
 
"Grunenthal received an attractive purchase price for thebusiness that allows further investment in its core business," Goertz adds.
 
Harald F. Stock, CEO of The Grunenthal Group, sums it up:"Forest is expanding its EU market by acquiring the additional CF products fromGrunenthal," he says. "We are convinced that Forest will open new and promisingperspectives for CF patients."

Lori Lesko

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