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Astellas agrees €800m deal to buy Belgian biotech Ogeda

Will pay another €300m if fezolinetant meets clinical and regulatory targets

AstellasJapan's Astellas has continued its acquisitive streak with an €800m deal to buy Ogeda, a Belgian biotech with a drug for menopausal symptoms heading for late-stage development.

Astellas is paying €500m upfront and up to €300m extra in clinical and regulatory milestones for Ogeda (formerly known as Euroscreen) and its lead candidate fezolinetant, which has been shown in phase II trials to reduce hot flushes and night sweats in post-menopausal women.

If confirmed in later studies, the drug could become the first non-hormonal medicine for those symptoms, providing an alternative to hormone replacement therapies that can elevate the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

In a phase IIa trial reported in January, fezolinetant was able to reduce the frequency of hot flushes by 88%, significantly better than the 38% improvement seen with placebo after four weeks of treatment. After 12 weeks the reductions were 93% and 54% respectively, while the severity of hot flushes was reduced to 70% with Ogeda's drug and 23% in the control group.

The market for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is currently estimated at around $15bn, with two-thirds of that accounted for by oestrogen replacement therapies for menopausal symptoms. More than 80% of menopausal women develop hot flushes and 20-30% of them seek medical treatment because their symptoms are severe and impact their quality of life. Driven by the aging population, the market could approach $22bn in the next five years.

Fezolinetant is a selective tachykinin NK3-receptor antagonist that could open up an entirely new way of treating menopause-related vasomotor symptoms (MR-VMS), said Astellas, whose biggest product is hormonal prostate cancer therapy Xtandi (enzalutamide).

The drug is also in development for polycystic ovary syndrome - with a phase IIa study in progress - as well as uterine fibroids, and the company is also considering developing it for use alongside hormonal therapies for breast and prostate cancer.

"The transaction fits with our strategy to deliver innovative drugs in therapeutic areas with high unmet medical needs,” commented Yoshihiko Hatanaka, president and CEO at Astellas. "We aim to deliver this potential new therapeutic option to those patients who are suffering from MR-VMS."

The parties expect the deal to close this quarter, after which Ogeda will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Astellas.

This is the second major deal for Astellas in a few months, following a $1.4bn acquisition of Germany's Ganymed Pharmaceuticals that gave it a gastric cancer antibody (IMAB362) in phase II trials.

Article by
Phil Taylor

4th April 2017

From: Sales

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