Takeda farms out 7 neuro programs to Neurocrine in deal worth up to $2B

blue illustration of neurons
Neurocrine is picking up an exclusive license to seven assets from Takeda’s early- to midstage psychiatry pipeline, including clinical-stage programs in schizophrenia, treatment-resistant depression and anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure. (Colin Behrens)

Takeda is sending off a troop of psychiatry programs, including three that are already in the clinic, to the next stage of their lives at Neurocrine Biosciences. In return, the Japanese pharma will pick up $120 million in upfront cash, with the potential to rake in nearly $1.9 billion in milestone payments—as well as the chance to share in the profits.

Neurocrine is picking up an exclusive license to seven assets from Takeda’s early- to midstage psychiatry pipeline, including clinical-stage programs in schizophrenia, treatment-resistant depression and anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure.

RELATED: Neurocrine, Jnana team up to discover CNS drugs

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The first two are in phase 2 studies: TAK-831 blocks D-amino acid oxidase to treat the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, while TAK-653 is an AMPA potentiator, meaning it boosts signaling through AMPA receptors as a potential treatment for stubborn depression. The third program, TAK-041, is a phase 2-ready GPCR agonist in development for the treatment of anhedonia in depression. The duo is keeping the four preclinical programs under wraps.

In addition to a potential $495 million in development and $1.4 billion in commercialization milestones, Takeda could, at certain points in the development process, opt into or out of a 50-50 profit share for each asset. If it pulls the trigger on profit-sharing, though, the company will forfeit the milestones.

“We are excited to collaborate with Takeda to bring life-changing therapies to people living with serious, challenging and under-addressed psychiatric disorders who are in need of better treatment options,” Kevin Gorman, Ph.D., CEO of Neurocrine Biosciences, said in a statement. “With our deep understanding in the fields of psychiatry and neurology, we look forward to developing new treatments for schizophrenia, treatment-resistant depression and anhedonia as part of our diverse clinical development pipeline.”

RELATED: The top 15 biopharma licensing deals of 2019 | 11. Neurocrine/Voyager Therapeutics

Neurocrine has four approved drugs: AbbVie-partnered Orilissa and Oriahnn—for the treatment of endometriosis and uterine fibroids, respectively—as well as Ingrezza for tardive dyskinesia and Ongentys for Parkinson’s disease. Its development pipeline includes treatments for rare disorder congenital adrenal hyperplasia, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and a second indication for Ingrezza: chorea in Huntington's disease.

The San Diego-based biotech inked one of the biggest licensing deals in 2019, handing over $165 million upfront to Voyager Therapeutics for a suite of gene therapies, including one for Parkinson’s disease. That deal has a similar structure to the tie-up with Takeda: Neurocrine promised up to $1.7 billion in milestones for four assets, but Voyager could choose to share profits instead of picking up those milestone payments.

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