What’s a late-stage IL-23 drug worth these days? We’re about to find out
We’ve seen how much Brent Saunders paid for his pipeline drugs while CEO of Allergan. Now we’ll get a demonstration of what they’re worth on the open market.
In an SEC filing Tuesday the company — being snapped up by AbbVie — said it will sell their Phase III IL-23 drug brazikumab to satisfy the FTC’s antitrust concerns. And that is being shopped along with the marketed therapy Zenpep.
Saunders spent $250 million upfront to get this brazikumab from AstraZeneca close to 3 years ago — along with $1.27 billion for development and sales milestones. But there’s a catch.
While Saunders and Allergan were grabbing assets for the pipeline, J&J was in the final drive to snag an approval for their IL-23 drug Tremfya (guselkumab, which earned $176 million in Q2, up 72%) while AbbVie itself was developing its IL-23 Skyrizi, approved just a few months ago — which is why Allergan has to offload their drug. And they were elbowing their way into a crowded market that already included Novartis’s Cosentyx and Eli Lilly’s Taltz in the new wave of anti-inflammatories.
Allergan put its drug into Phase III for Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis last fall — putting them well behind the competition. And given development timelines, that couldn’t have been a major surprise. The drug is expected to produce its first set of late-stage data next year.
Further complicating the sales process, and dampening enthusiasm, is Allergan’s R&D track record, blighted by the failure of rapastinel. Analysts responded by discounting the entire pipeline, which will no doubt further weigh down its retail value.