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Sanofi bolsters pipeline with $3.7bn deal for Principia Biopharma

French drugmaker will gain access to a portfolio of BTK inhibitors

French drugmaker Sanofi has further bulked up its pipeline after announcing plans to acquire US-based Principia Biopharma in a deal worth $3.7bn.

As part of the deal, Sanofi will gain access to Principia’s portfolio of Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitors for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

The lead candidate, and focus of the acquisition, is BTK inhibitor ‘168, currently in development for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). In 2017, Sanofi signed a deal with Principia for exclusive rights to ‘168 in MS and other central nervous system diseases, and will have full control of the drug's development following the buyout.

In a phase 2b study, ‘168 reduced Gd-enhancing T1 hyperintense lesions by 65% in patients with MS, compared to placebo. In June, the first MS patients were enrolled in the phase 3 programme for the BTK inhibitor, which includes four clinical trials across the disease spectrum.

According to Sanofi, the acquisition will allow for the expansion of the development programme to evaluate indications beyond central nervous system diseases.

“This acquisition advances our ongoing R&D transformation to accelerate development of the most promising medicines that will address significant patient needs,” said Paul Hudson, Sanofi's chief executive officer.

“The addition of multiple BTK inhibitors to our pipeline demonstrates our commitment to strategic product acquisitions in our priority therapeutic areas. Full ownership of our brain-penetrant BTK inhibitor ‘168 removes complexities for this priority development programme and simplifies future commercialisation,” he added.

In addition to ‘168, Sanofi gains rights to rilzabrutinib, an oral BTK inhibitor in development for the treatment of the rare autoimmune disease severe pemphigus and PRN473 Topical, a topical agent for immune-mediated diseases.

The Principia acquisition is the latest strategy move for a revamped Sanofi, following the termination of its diabetes and cardiovascular research last year, historically one of its core areas.

New CEO Hudson set out his re-prioritisation of the business with a focus on a number of investigational pipeline candidates.

In December, Hudson cut his first deal as CEO, going big with a $2.5bn deal for immuno-oncology specialist Synthorx. This acquisition strengthened the company’s oncology pipeline with the addition of a pipeline of synthorin drugs for cancer as well as autoimmune indications.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

19th August 2020

From: Sales

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