Pharma, Protocols

Mereo bags rights to the latest AstraZeneca castoff, shifts focus; Neos rejects buyout offer

Denise Scots-Knight

→ London-based Mereo BioPharma has picked off an option on the rights to a Phase II drug from AstraZeneca, which has been steadily divesting itself of non-core or disappointing drugs. Mereo is paying $5 million in cash and stock for the option to AZD9668, an oral inhibitor of neutrophil elastase now being steered into a Phase II for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, or AATD. AstraZeneca has run the drug through several respiratory Phase II trials, and now Mereo will shift focus to the rare disease. The deal lays out unspecified payments and milestones, if the drug hits its marks in the proof-of-concept study. Said Mereo CEO Denise Scots-Knight: “AstraZeneca has generated a substantial clinical data package on AZD9668 which includes extensive Phase II studies in several respiratory conditions that will inform the initial Phase II clinical study we are planning for AATD.  We believe that the neutrophil elastase inhibitor AZD9668 could provide a new innovative approach for the treatment of AATD, which affects approximately 100,000 patients in the US and 120,000 patients in Europe.”

Neos Therapeutics $NEOS has formally spurned an offer from PDL BioPharma $PDLI to buy out the company at $10.25 a share. Look for this bid to go hostile, though, as PDL pushes hard for a deal.

→ Germany’s InflaRx has set terms for its IPO, planning to raise about $100 million by selling shares at $14 to $16 each.

GW Pharmaceuticals $GWPH has completed its rolling submission of an NDA for Epidiolex (cannabidiol) for seizures related to Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two treatment-resistant forms of childhood-onset epilepsy.

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