Astellas swoops in on a mid-stage drug for hot flashes in $860M biotech buyout deal

Astellas Pharma’s Illinois campus

Three months after the Belgian biotech Ogeda reported solidly positive data from a Phase IIa study of its experimental, non-hormonal therapy for hot flashes related to menopause, the company is being bought out with a hefty cash payment of €500 million along with a commitment for €300 million more in milestones (or about $860 million total).

Jean Combalbert, Ogeda

Japan’s Astellas has swooped in to make the buyout, obviously impressed with data that showed a 93% reduction in hot flashes for the fezolinetant group at week 12 compared to 54% on placebo. The reduction in severity of hot flashes at week 12 was 70% for the drug arm and 23% in the placebo group.

At the time of the readout early in the year, which was apparently largely overlooked at the time, the principal investigator noted that 20% to 30% of women who develop hot flashes during menopause (80% of all women) seek treatment for the condition due to the severity of the symptoms.

The drug, which Ogeda says it discovered and was steering into Phase IIb, is a GPCR antagonist that targets the tachykinin NK3 receptor, acting on “specific neurons that control body temperature to mimic the effects of estrogen, but in a non-hormonal manner, to directly and safely address the basis for HF in menopausal women.”

Jean Combalbert, CEO of Ogeda, said:

We welcome the acquisition by Astellas and look forward to developing fezolinetant, first non-hormonal treatment of Hot Flashes (HF)/ MR-VMS, inside a leading global pharmaceutical company. With its strong development and commercialization capabilities, resources and vision, I am convinced that Astellas will be able to turn fezolinetant promising clinical results into near-term value for patients.

Vesalius Biocapital II Partners, SRIW SA, BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity, and Capricorn Health-Tech Fund NV participated in a €16 million Series B round in 2015, indicating that investors did very well on this deal.

At the time the company was called Euroscreen and then changed the name to Ogeda. The biotech partnered with Merck in 2014.

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