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Idorsia amends epilepsy therapy licensing deal, disclosing buyer

Swiss pharmaceutical company Idorsia Ltd. disclosed that it had granted Neurocrine Biosciences Inc. an option in 2019 to license ACT-709478 as a treatment for epilepsy in children.

The companies announced Jan. 10 that they had amended the original agreement, shortening the time Neurocrine has to exercise its option but without making any substantial changes to the amounts Idorsia is eligible to receive as a result. Idorsia had not disclosed Neurocrine's identity at the time it had granted the option in May 2019.

San Diego-based Neurocrine will now have 30 days — as opposed to 60 days — to exercise its option from the time the U.S. Food and Drug Administration accepts Idorsia's investigational new drug application to study the medicine in humans. Idorsia expects to submit an application in mid-2020 with Neurocrine covering costs tied to the filing.

Neurocrine, which already paid $5 million in 2019, agreed to pay another $45 million if it exercises the option plus $7 million in funding to Idorsia as part of a research collaboration. Idorsia is also eligible to receive up to a further $365 million — unchanged from the original agreement — if the treatment meets certain milestones, plus royalties on the global sales of ACT-709478 once it is commercialized, including in the U.S.

ACT-709478 inhibits the activity of T-type calcium channels, which regulate blood in arteries and develop and repair many types of tissue but can cause health complications if left unchecked. In addition to treating epilepsy, regulating the calcium channel has the potential to treat other disorders such as essential tremor — a condition resulting in involuntary and rhythmic shaking of the body — and pain, Neurocrine CEO Kevin Gorman said in a statement.

Idorsia and Neurocrine will work to identify new T-type channel blockers and explore their use in potential new disease states. In the 2019 agreement, Neurocrine said it would receive up to $310 million in one-time payments for up to two follow-on compounds developed as a result of the companies' research collaboration, though the companies made no mention of the figure in their latest press release.

Neurocrine also entered an agreement to license Xenon Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s epilepsy drug candidate XEN901 in December 2019 for a $30 million upfront cash fee and a $20 million equity investment. Neurocrine's agreement could also fetch Xenon up to a further $1.7 billion in additional development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments.