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Biogen Idec buys pain specialist Convergence for $675m

Will gain access to lead drug for neuropathic pain

Biogen Idec building 

Biogen Idec has bolstered its pipeline of drugs for pain management with a $675m agreement to buy UK-based Convergence Pharmaceuticals.

The deal will give Biogen Idec access to Convergence's portfolio of ion channel-modulating product candidates for neuropathic pain including lead drug CNV1014802, which has completed two phase II trials in lumbosacral radiculopathy - commonly known as sciatica - and the severe facial pain trigeminal neuralgia.

CNV1014802 inhibits the Nav 1.7 ion channel, a target that genetic studies suggest is particularly important in neuropathic pain conditions. It will slot into Biogen Idec's pipeline alongside Neublastin (BG00010), a glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor which is also in phase II trials for sciatica.

The US biotech company is paying $200m upfront for Convergence, with shareholders in the UK company set to receive up to an additional $475m if CNV1014802 and other pipeline drugs meet their development and commercial objectives.

"Neuropathic pain is an area of significant unmet need and represents a natural complement to our current neurology portfolio," said Douglas Williams, Biogen Idec's executive vice president of R&D.

Neuropathic pain - which is caused by problems with signals from nerves - is the hardest form to treat and generally does not resolve over time.

It is highly resistant to treatment with typical analgesic drugs and so is generally managed - often with limited success - using a battery of alternative drugs such as the antidepressants amitryptiline and Eli Lilly's Cymbalta (duloxetine) as well as epilepsy drugs like carbamazepine and Pfizer's Lyrica (pregabalin).

Ion channel modulators are thought to have the greatest potential in relieving pain in difficult-to-treat neuropathic pain conditions, according to a recent report from Decision Resources.

Targeting of subtypes of voltage-gated ion channels within pain pathways - particularly Nav1.7 - is an approach that offers "significant commercial potential," according to the market research firm.

The acquisition is due to close in the first quarter, and Convergence will continue to operate from its current headquarters in Cambridge under the leadership of its chief scientific officer Simon Tate.

Article by
Phil Taylor

13th January 2015

From: Sales

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