Abbott bags Galapagos' first-in-class compound against rheumatoid arthritis
Illinois/Mechelen – US pharma major Abbott has paid US$150m upfront to Belgian biotech firm Galapagos NV to enter into a global development and distribution partnership for its first-in-class selective oral JAK1 blocker that has recently proved effective in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Under the terms of the agreement, Abbott has secured an option to license the programme for a one-time fee of U$200m. In that case, Abbott will assume sole responsibility for Phase III clinical development and global manufacturing. Pending the achievement of certain developmental, regulatory, commercial and sales-based milestones, Galapagos would be eligible to receive additional milestone payments from Abbott, potentially amounting to US$1bn, in addition to tiered double-digit royalties on net sales upon commercialisation. Galapagos retains co-promotion rights in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
With the deal, Abbott enters a competition with Pfizer and Vertex, who also have JAK kinase blockers against RA under development. According to the results from an exploratory Phase II trial published last November, 83% of the 36 patients receiving GLPG0634 reached the ACR20 score and half of the treated patients went into either disease remission or low disease activity. Furthermore the compound showed no anaemia, change in blood pressure of lipids. Onno van de Stolpe, CEO of Mechelen, Belgium-based Galapagos, was also keen to emphasise the trial had demonstrated a better safety profile than other JAK inhibitors, which are in development for rheumatoid arthritis. They include two potential blockbuster DMARDS: Pfizer's tofacitinib and Vertex Inc.'s VX509, which is in Phase II.