Drug Development

Akebia forges $1B US pact with Otsuka on lead drug for CKD, shares spike

John Butler, Akebia

John Butler, Akebia

Akebia $AKBA has struck a landmark $1 billion partnership with Otsuka for its late-stage drug vadadustat, an oral treatment for anemia related to chronic kidney disease. The deal comes with $265 million in committed cash, including $125 million as an upfront payment with another $35 million due in early 2017.

Otsuka gains co-commercialization rights in the US for Akebia’s drug, handing over $105 million to help cover development costs and offering milestones reaching up to $765 million.

That all marks a big score for Akebia, which saw its shares spike 43% on the news this morning.

“This collaboration achieves our goal of funding our global PRO2TECT and INNO2VATE Phase 3 studies for vadadustat while retaining significant long-term value for Akebia,” said Akebia CEO John P. Butler.

Like rival FibroGen $FGEN, Akebia is working on stimulating the production of red blood cells by mimicking the effect of high altitude on humans. And it hopes to tackle ESAs from Amgen, a market worth billions in annual income.

Mitsubishi Tanabe struck a $350 million deal with Cambridge, MA-based Akebia for the Asian rights to this drug back in late 2015.

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