Takeda, Frazier create Phathom Pharmaceuticals to spur development of GI drug Vonoprazan in $140M play

With fourteen gastroenterology assets in its pipeline, Takeda $TAK has its hands full. The company — newly merged with Shire — is thus farming out the ex-Japan development of its acid-fighter Vonoprazan to a company it has created with the venture partners at Frazier: Phathom Pharmaceuticals.

Vonoprazan is a P-CAB — a class of drugs that blocks the potassium-binding site of gastric hydrogen potassium ATPase (also known as the proton pump), which is the enzyme largely responsible for acidification of the stomach — discovered and developed by Takeda. The drug — which is designed to overcome many of the perceived weaknesses of traditional proton pump inhibitor therapy (such as short half-life, requiring 3–5 cycles of administration before achieving full effect) — was approved in 2015 by Japanese regulators for various GI conditions including gastric and duodenal ulcers as well as H. pylori infections.

Asit Parikh

While Phathom has in-licensed the drug from Takeda for the development and exclusive commercialization rights to Vonoprazan in North America and Europe — Takeda and Otsuka will continue to co-promote the drug in Japan. Takeda, which in 2017 saw 21.6% of its revenue growth come from its GI portfolio, will also continue to market Vonoprazan in several Asian markets (Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand) where it has launched.

Phathom has completed a $90 million private financing led by Frazier, with investments from Medicxi, RA Capital Management, Abingworth, certain accounts managed by Janus Henderson Investors, BVF Partners LP, Greenspring Associates, Richard King Mellon Foundation, Sahsen Ventures and undisclosed institutional investors. The company, which is being run by Frazier venture partner David Socks as interim chief, has also secured a $50 million term loan facility with Silicon Valley Bank.

“Takeda embraces collaboration to further develop and create value around promising assets where partnership makes more sense for our business,” said Asit Parikh, head of the gastroenterology therapeutic area unit at Takeda, in a statement.


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