Arrowhead can see the Horizon with $700M biobucks pact for an early RNA gout med

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A potential treatment for uncontrolled gout is now on the horizon for Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals following a collaboration deal with Horizon Therapeutics. (Pixabay/Larisa Koshkina)

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals has added to its collection of RNA collaborations with a $40 million upfront deal with Horizon Therapeutics. 

Following deals with Johnson & Johnson and Takeda in recent years, Arrowhead is linking up with Horizon on a previously undisclosed investigational RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutic for the potential treatment of uncontrolled gout. 

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The serious, painful form of arthritis is caused by excess uric acid in the blood and affects more than 9 million people in the U.S., the companies said. Arrowhead's discovery-stage therapeutic, dubbed ARO-XDH, is designed to target the primary source of serum uric acid, which can lead to permanent damage to bones, joints and organs if not treated or undertreated. 

Horizon is not new to the field of gout. The company exceeded $400 million in net sales for full-year 2020 for its gout drug Krystexxa.

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“As a commercial and clinical leader in gout, we understand the disease and its impact, and that there is still a tremendous unmet treatment need,” said Tim Walbert, Horizon's chairman, president and CEO, in a statement

As part of Monday's deal, Arrowhead gets the upfront payment to bring ARO-XDH through preclinical stages. Horizon snags a worldwide exclusive license in exchange for whole responsibility of clinical development and commercialization.

Arrowhead can rake in up to $660 million in potential biobucks. If the therapeutic comes to market, Arrowhead could pocket royalties in the low- to mid-teens range on net product sales. 

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“We believe Horizon’s expertise in the clinical development and commercialization of therapies for gout makes them an ideal partner. We look forward to working closely with Horizon as we advance this potential new therapy for patients in need,” said Christopher Anzalone, Ph.D., Arrowhead’s president and CEO. 

The news comes four months after Horizon dished out $3 billion to buy AstraZeneca spinout Viela for its autoimmune drugs and six months after Arrowhead lost its chief scientific officer to NeuBase Therapeutics.