Boehringer Ingelheim
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (L) walks with Rolf Krebs, the chairman of Pharmaceutical lab Boehringer Ingelheim, after his arrival to the drug maker's plant in Mexico City, February 11, 2002. Schroeder is in Mexico for a two-day official visit. Reuters

Boehringer Ingelheim struck a $250-million deal to acquire the Phase I asset of Pharmaxis’ investigation drug PXS4728A to develop it for the treatment of the liver-related condition non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, and to prevent its consequences. The drug-candidate will also be investigated for further potential in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, and other diseases that require high medical need.

The acquisition dea,l done to investigate the anti-inflammatory drug-candidate, will add an innovative approach to the clinical development portfolio of the European drug company. In this deal, Pharmaxis will receive a payment of €27.5 million (approximately A$39 million) for continuing the successful development and commercialisation of the PXS4728A programme.

Glyn Parkin, corporate SVP and metabolism head at Boehringer Ingelheim, says, “We have ambitious strategic goals in diabetes and metabolism and this Phase 1 asset acquisition fits well into our development portfolio. We are pleased to have achieved access to Pharmaxis’ research excellence and innovative approach to treatments for NASH. We will continue to build our portfolio through both internal and external innovation so that we are able to bring much needed medications to the patients we serve.”

PXS4728A is a Semicarbazide-Sensitive Amine Oxidase/Vascular Adhesion Protein-1 (SSAO/VAP-1) Inhibitor discovered by Sydney, Australia-based Pharmaxis. Its mechanism of action involves the blocking of leucocyte adhesion and tissue infiltration in inflammatory processes. Its development involved phase 1 clinical studies that were successful in demonstrating oral bioavailability, long-lasting target inhibition with safety and efficacy.

The disease, NASH, is a progressive form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease , or NAFLD, and is considered as one of the most common liver disorders in the western world. If not treated, NASH can further develop into diseases like cirrhosis of liver and might also cause fibrosis; hence, it requires immediate clinical attention. Metabolic disorders like diabetes type 2 and obesity are the leading causes of NASH and with an increase in their prevalence, it is estimated that NASH might become one of the most common causes of advanced liver disorders in the coming decades.

Pharmaxis CEO Gary Phillips says, “This is a transformational event for Pharmaxis. With a total potential value in excess of $A750 million, it is a globally competitive deal and significant for the Australian biotech sector. We are delighted that Boehringer Ingelheim, a leader in cardiometabolic research and development, has acquired PXS4728A. Boehringer Ingelheim’s clinical expertise will now be applied to the development of this drug which has the potential to make a real difference in the treatment of diseases with high unmet clinical need.”

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