Santarus snags U.S. rights to Pharming's Rhucin in $20M pact

Dutch biotech Pharming will get a much needed shot of cash from a newly inked pact that gives San Diego-based Santarus North American marketing rights to the anti-swelling therapy Rhucin. Pharming gets $15 million upfront and another $5 million when the FDA accepts its BLA on the therapy in the next few months, giving the European company the cash it needs to make a crucial bond payment at the end of October. Santarus also committed to unspecified milestones, which Pharming believes could generate hundreds of millions in additional revenue.

"The huge crater they (Pharming) were facing has vanished, so this is very positive cash flow wise," AEK analyst Bernd Hilhorst told Reuters. Pharming will stay in charge of development and regulatory work in the U.S. while Santarus handles approvals in Canada and Mexico. The drug is designed to treat hereditary angioedema and won a recommendation from the EMA last June.

Pharming sees the U.S. as a rich source of future revenue. Its CEO is projecting annual sales at about $200 million, which could eventually gin up to $750 million in milestones and royalties from Santarus. The BLA is expected by January 2011.

Santarus also announced this morning that it acquired the worldwide rights to an anti-VLA-1 antibody--which has "shown activity in multiple preclinical models of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases"--through the acquisition of Covella Pharmaceuticals. Santarus is paying $1.8 million in a combination of upfront fees, the assumption of Covella liabilities and transaction expenses.

- read the Santarus release
- check out the Reuters report