Auven Therapeutics sells PhIII dry eye disease drug to Sun for $40M-plus

Peter B. Corr, Auven

Peter B. Corr, Auven

Auven Therapeutics has sold worldwide rights to its Phase III dry eye disease therapy — dubbed Seciera —   to India’s Sun Pharma for $40 million plus unspecified milestones. The company will announce later today that it made the sale through a subsidiary.

Slated for completion in early 2017, Auven recruited 747 patients for the late-stage study.

“Seciera has the potential to be a best-in-class product and the first treatment for dry eye disease that addresses both tear production and inflammation of the ocular surface” said Dr. Peter B. Corr, managing general Partner of Auven Therapeutics. “In addition, Seciera offers key improvements in earlier onset of positive effects and lack of application discomfort over currently available therapies.”

For Sun, this new deal further builds a pipeline of branded drugs, zeroing in on eye drugs last fall with the acquisition of InSite Vision, which included late-stage products. Sun announced plans last fall to launch an ophthalmology division in the US.

Almost unique for a biotech, Auven is an equity investor/R&D hybrid that both develops drugs and invests in biotechs. An investment in the controversial female sexual dysfunction drug flibanserin recently paid off with a $1 billion buyout deal from Valeant ($VRX). Auven was also the majority owner of the U.K.’s Spirogen, which was bought out by AstraZeneca ($AZN) two years ago for $440 million.

Last fall the company posted some mixed Phase IIb/III data that included hitting a statistically significant improvement on a key measure of the increasingly common ailment. And their drug, a reformulated nano-version of Restasis (cyclosporine) designed to amp up therapeutic penetration and improve efficacy, headed straight into a confirmatory Phase III study that the biotech/equity group believes will position it against Allergan’s ($AGN) Restasis and Shire’s ($SHPG) lifitegrast, which was approved last July and hit the market as Xiidra.


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