Deals

After a bruising year, Aeterna Zentaris inks a $24M upfront US pact for growth hormone asset

Over the past year Aeterna Zentaris $AEZS has watched its lead drug go down in flames on a failed Phase III trial, gone back to hunt an approval for its old lead program — which had also failed — and got into a knock down and drag out fight with its ex-CEO over allegations he was trying to purloin their key remaining asset.

Today, the company is announcing that it’s handing off US and Canadian rights to Macrilen (macimorelin) — its sole asset outside of preclinical development — in exchange for a $24 million cash upfront and $179 million in milestones, including a $5 million bonus for a pediatric approval.

Strongbridge $SBBP is snagging the asset, which the FDA approved last month for use in diagnosing growth hormone deficiency.

The money looked good to Aeterna’s investors. The microchip biotech, which started the day with a barebones market cap of $33 million, saw its shares shoot up 35% in premarket trading.

David Dodd

The approval came close to 4 years after the FDA had initially rejected the asset, which forced the company to switch gears and focus on Zoptrex, a cancer drug which failed Phase III last spring. The board and CEO David Dodd subsequently engaged in a bruising fight over allegations that Dodd tried to take control of Macrilen.

The board’s main task now lies in finding deals for the rest of the world for Macrilen.


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