Sosei Says `Rapidly' Renewing Pipeline After Allergan Deal

  • CEO-Elect Peter Bains says "a lot more to come" for company
  • Tokyo-based biopharmaceutical firm could make bolt-on deals

Sosei Group is "rapidly" replenishing its portfolio after announcing a $125 million drug development agreement with Allergan Plc last week, the Japanese pharmaceutical company’s incoming chief executive officer said.

The Tokyo-based company, which last year gained rights to technology that allows it to develop drugs in a more targeted way through the acquisition of U.K.-based Heptares Therapeutics, will also consider bolt-on acquisitions to complement that expertise, Chief Operating Officer Peter Bains said in a phone interview. He is set to become CEO in June.

Sosei’s shares have risen fivefold over the past year as it has forged partnerships with several international companies. The deal announced last week gave Dublin-based Allergan rights to a portfolio of treatments for neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease. Sosei says it will continue with a mixed model -- developing some treatments on its own and partnering with other companies in certain cases.

The stock rose as much as 4.5 percent today, while the Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers index gained as much 2.6 percent. Sosei closed at 19,950 yen, a 3.1 percent increase.

New CEO

Bains joined the company in an executive capacity on April 1. He had 23 years experience at SmithKline Beecham Plc, which has since become GlaxoSmithKline Plc. He was most recently the chief executive of Syngene, which listed last year in India.

Sosei is aided by a steady royalty stream from Novartis AG for lung disease treatments, which helps support investment in experimental therapies, Bains said. It also has partnerships with AstraZeneca Plc and in November Pfizer Inc. said it would buy a stake of about 3 percent in the company. Pfizer at the time said it would also enter into a drug-discovery collaboration with Heptares to develop new medicines aimed at a handful of biological targets that may play a role in multiple diseases.

Heptares works on creating new medicines targeting G protein-coupled receptors, or GPCR proteins, in the human body that are linked to a wide range of human diseases. It uses its own drug design technology to help develop the new treatments.

Bains, 59, joined the board of Sosei five years ago, after a chance introduction to founder and current Chief Executive Officer Shinichi Tamura, who will remain as executive chairman after the change. He will continue to keep a home in London and travel regularly to Japan -- a country where he says he’s spent a significant amount of time over the past 25 years.

Sosei accounts for some 16 percent of the Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers Index, a start-up share gauge on which it’s listed. It’s working through the process of moving to the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Japan, Bains said.

“We’ve come a long way in the last few years," said Bains. “We moved from discovery to early development. There is a lot more to come."

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