Newron in Talks to License Experimental Schizophrenia Drugby
Possible deal may come in second half, CEO says in interview
Potential buyers await key data to be released in March
Newron Pharmaceuticals SpA has held initial discussions with potential partners about licensing an experimental drug to treat schizophrenia, a mental health condition with no cure.
“We see a good chance of a licensing deal in the second half of the year,” Chief Executive Officer Stefan Weber said in a telephone interview late on Tuesday.
Among the 10 to 15 drugmakers with a stake in the $24 billion market for schizophrenia treatments, Weber cited Eli Lilly & Co., Roche Holding AG, Novartis AG, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd and Otsuka Holdings Co. Ltd. Any potential partner will want to see more data from a mid-stage trial whose full details will be unveiled in March, he said.
The experimental medicine, called evenamide, is a potential blockbuster, according to Weber. Blockbuster is the industry term for medicines with at least $1 billion in annual sales. The Bresso, Italy-based company plans to release details about a phase II clinical test at an industry conference in March -- the same month another medicine, the first innovative drug for Parkinson’s disease in a decade, may get a ruling from U.S. regulators.
A licensing deal would allow Newron to devote its 45 million euros ($48 million) in funds to push another experimental drug it deems even more promising: Sarizotan, for a rare disease without a cure known as Rett Syndrome, according to Weber. The medicine is in advanced tests but finding patients with the neurological disorder to run a reliable test is taking time.
Newron shares rose 2.7 percent to 23 Swiss francs at 9:33 a.m. in Zurich trading, giving the company a market value of 363 million francs. Earlier, the stock rose to 23.45 francs, the highest in more than three months.