Questcor acquires Synacthen rights from Novartis

The transaction agreements for Synacthen and Synacthen Depot include $60 million up front, at least $75 million in additional payments, as well as royalties on net sales

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ANAHEIM, Calif.—Questcor Pharmaceuticals, Inc., abiopharmaceutical company with a focus on products for the treatment of seriousautoimmune and inflammatory disorders, has acquired from Novartis Pharma AG andNovartis AG the rights to develop Synacthen and Synacthen Depot in the UnitedStates. Questcor has also acquired the rights to the two products in countriesoutside the United States, subject to certain closing condition.
"This transaction leverages our rapidly growingunderstanding of the different characteristics and biological activity ofmelanocortin receptor agonists such as Synacthen, a synthetic ACTH-relatedagonist, and naturally derived Acthar, as well as the potential use ofmelanocortin receptor agonists in the treatment of serious and difficult-to-treatautoimmune and inflammatory disorders," David Young, Ph.D, chief scientificofficer of Questcor, said in a press release. "We intend to develop and seekFDA approval for Synacthen and are committed to developing this product notonly in conditions different than Acthar but also in conditions where Synacthenwould potentially provide a clinical benefit over Acthar."
Per the terms of the agreements, Novartis has received a $60million upfront consideration, and Questcor will pay at least $75 million inadditional payments over the next several years, as well as potential milestonepayments prior to approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. ShouldSynacthen receive FDA approval in the United States, Novartis stands to receiveanother milestone in addition to royalties based on U.S. net sales. Questcorwill immediately assume rights in the United States, and will commercializeSynacthen once it secures approval. If Questcor satisfies certain closingconditions within the next two years, it will also assume rights to Synacthenin more than three-dozen countries outside of the United States.
Synacthen is a synthetic 24 amino acid melanocortin receptoragonist and along with Synacthen Depot, is indicated for the treatment ofconditions such as some rheumatoid diseases, ulcerative colitis, chronic skinconditions (those that respond to corticosteroids), nephrotic syndrome andacute exacerbations in patients with multiple sclerosis or retrobulbarneuritis. Both products are also used as a diagnostic test for adrenalinsufficiency. The products are approved in more than 40 countries outside ofthe United States.

"As an emerging leader in melanocortin research, we now have the opportunitywith Synacthen to expand and accelerate our product development activities. Webelieve such efforts will enhance our expanding R&D program," Don M.Bailey, president and CEO of Questcor, commented in a statement. "In addition,this key acquisition provides an opportunity to initiate our presence in more thanthree dozen international markets, giving us an opportunity to reinvigorateSynacthen in these markets and providing us a platform for potentialinternational growth."
"Together with our previous acquisition of BioVectra, thistransaction provides Questcor with an opportunity for both an internationalpresence and a more robust business model. We anticipate establishing a base ofoperations in Europe to manage and optimize the worldwide Synacthen brand,"Bailey added.
SOURCE: Questcor press release

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