Sorrento subsidiary Scintilla to go it alone with $200M pain biotech buy

Sorrento’s ($SRNE) subsidiary Scintilla Pharmaceuticals has snapped up back pain specialist Semnur a week after announcing a similar deal to acquire another pain biotech, SCILEX, in a move that will see the firm become its own standalone company.

The California-based Scintilla, which has been wholly owned by the biosimilar and oncology biotech Sorrento, is buying into Scintilla's lead program: a nonopiate epidural steroid injectable to treat chronic back pain that is slated to start Phase III trials next year.

This dovetails with Scintilla’s own lead program resiniferatoxin (a.k.a. RTX), which is being tested in patients with intractable cancer pain, and is set for Phase II tests starting in 2017.

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The merger deal sees Scintilla pay out $60 million upfront to Semnur’s equity holders--which will be made up of $40 million in cash and $20 million in shares of common stock of Sorrento. 

There will also be an extra cash boost worth up to $140 million from Scintilla to Semnur's equity holders, should its drug hit certain sales and development targets in the coming years.

This also comes after Scintilla penned a deal to acquire Malvern, PA-based SCILEX Pharmaceuticals just last week, whose lead product is for the chronic pain that can come with shingles.

When both deals are formally closed, Scintilla said it will then: “Operate as a standalone company focused on pain management,” with “key members” of Semnur’s management team set to take a seat on Scintilla’s existing executive table.

Dr. Henry Ji, president and CEO of Sorrento, said: “Upon completion of the pending acquisitions and integrations of Semnur and SCILEX, Scintilla will immediately become a truly unique pain management company with a multiple product pipeline and an experienced management team led by Jaisim Shah from Semnur and Anthony Mack from SCILEX.”

“The acquisition by Scintilla reflects the strength of Semnur's technology, IP and tremendous potential of our lead product candidate,” added Mahendra Shah, executive chairman of Semnur Pharmaceuticals, and MD of Vivo Capital.

“We are excited to join Scintilla and be a part of such a dynamic company that will be a major player in the pain management space.”

- check out the release

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