Busy Gilead crew throws struggling biotech a lifeline, with some cash upfront and hundreds of millions in biobucks for HIV deal
Durect $DRRX got a badly needed shot in the arm Monday morning as Gilead’s busy BD team lined up access to its extended-release platform tech for HIV and hepatitis B.
Gilead, a leader in the HIV sector, is paying a modest $25 million in cash for the right to jump on the platform at Durect, which has been using its technology to come up with an extended-release version of bupivacaine. The FDA rejected that in 2014, but Durect has been working on a comeback.
That program has had more than its share of problems. In the fall of 2017 the company’s Phase III study of their long-acting version — partnered with Novartis — failed against a comparison arm using regular bupivacaine, as the FDA insisted. The stock collapsed.
The deal announced today comes with some hefty biobucks added in milestones. There’s $75 million for development and regulatory milestones in the first package, plus $70 million in sales goal cash. On top of that, Gilead will add up to $150 million for each new development program it adds to its pipeline out of the pact.
For Gilead, it’s the latest in a string of large and small deals aimed at making over the pipeline with partners. The big deal landed just days ago, with their $5 billion upfront to ally themselves with Galapagos.
Investors liked the sound of today’s news. Cupertino, CA-based Durect has seen its share price cut in half over the past year, sliding well below the critical $1 mark. This morning, though, shares popped 36%, getting back close to a buck a share.
Durect CEO James Brown noted: “We’ve been working together on this program as a feasibility project, and are now delighted that Gilead has chosen to advance this effort into a formal development program.”
Social image: Gilead, AP Images