Specialist drug discovery company Immupharma (IMM:AIM) announced a licence and development agreement with US firm Avion Pharmaceuticals LLC for the exclusive rights to its Lupus drug Lupizor in the US, putting a rocket under the shares which have more than trebled this morning to 22.2p from 7.1p last night.
A trademark license agreement has also been signed which gives Avion the right to develop, manufacture and commercialise other auto-immune related products.
Lupus is a disease that causes inflammation throughout the body as the immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues resulting in damage to the skin, joints, kidney, heart and lungs. The US is the largest market, with around 1.5m sufferers.
Chief executive Dimitri Dimitriou commented, ‘importantly, Avion's specialist sales team is well respected within the rheumatologist community, whose focus is on prescribing safe and efficacious treatments for autoimmune diseases such as lupus.’
Immupharma reported on a Phase III European trial in May 2018 which demonstrated that patients taking the drug had significantly reduced activity of the disease. A new optimised international Phase III trial in lupus patients designed between Avion, Immupharma and the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to start in 2020.
Avion will fund the expected costs of the trial up to $25m, while Immupharma will receive milestone payments up to $70m and tiered double-digit royalties up to 17% based on pre-specified annual sales targets in the US.
The market value for the treatment of Lupus is estimated to be worth over $3bn by 2024 according to market data firm Goldstein Research.
Immupharma retains the rights to commercialise the drug outside the US, while all existing clinical data and future joint intellectual property will be shared by the two parties.
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