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Ipsen hands back Parkinson’s drug fipamezole

Second time Santhera has rights returned by licensing partner

French pharma company Ipsen has returned rights to fipamezole, an investigational drug to treat the side effects caused by Parkinson's disease treatment levodopa, to Swiss partner Santhera Pharmaceuticals.

Santhera regains worldwide development and commercialisation rights to the first-in-class selective adrenergic alpha-2 receptor antagonist, with Ipsen's interest in the product now reduced to possible milestone payments and royalties on future sales.

However, the French firm said it has retained a call option to license the programme if certain conditions are met.

Ipsen licensed rights to fipamezole outside the US, Canada and Japan in September 2010 in return for an upfront payment of €13m to Santhera.

The Swiss firm had already completed two phase II trials of the compound in Parkinson's disease patients suffering movement disorders (dyskinesias) as a result of protracted levodopa treatment.

Those studies showed that fipamezole reduced dyskinesias without a clinically meaningful worsening of Parkinsonian symptoms.

This appears to be the second time that Santhera has had rights to fipamezole returned by a licensing partner. US and Canadian commercialisation rights were formerly held by Biovail, but were handed back shortly after that company was acquired by Valeant Pharmaceuticals.

Meanwhile, Santhera is looking to move its focus away from fipamezole, saying that in the near-term it will concentrate on Catena (idebenone).

The drug is already on the market in Canada to treat Friedrich's ataxia and is in development for a range of neuromuscular and mitochondrial orphan diseases.

In Europe Catena is under regulatory review as a first-ever treatment for patients with Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy, an inherited form of vision loss.

Fipamezole continues to be a valuable asset in Santhera's late-stage clinical pipeline,” said the Swiss firm's chief executive Thomas Meier.

26th January 2012

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