Takeda teams up with Frazier Healthcare for GI biotech launch

With the Shire deal done, Takeda is looking to lighten the load a little from its central R&D base. To that end, it has launched a new biotech alongside Frazier Healthcare, Phathom Pharmaceuticals, to take its late-stage gastrointestinal drug to the finish line.

That GI med, known as vonoprazan, is designed to block stomach acids and treat gastroesophageal reflux disease. It’s approved in a number of Asian markets, including Japan, but remains unapproved in the more lucrative European and U.S. markets.

Phathom, which has been given a $90 million funding round along with a $50 million credit line, will finish testing and aims to gain the green light in the key regions. Takeda and Otsuka hold on to its Japanese and other Asian rights.

The drug is designed to be a better option that proton pump inhibitor therapy on its own, which Takeda says can in a large minority of people fail to help with gastroesophageal reflux disease.

“Takeda embraces collaboration to further develop and create value around promising assets where partnership makes more sense for our business,” said Asit Parikh, M.D., Ph.D., head of the gastroenterology therapeutic area unit at Takeda, in a statement. “Phathom’s skilled leadership, with deep expertise in acid-related disorders, positions them well to expand access to vonoprazan in North America and Europe while Takeda continues to leverage its presence in Japan and several Asian markets.”

“We are excited to have the opportunity to develop vonoprazan for the United States, Europe and Canada to address this immense unmet need,” said Tachi Yamada, M.D., chairman of Phathom and venture partner with Frazier, which helped raise the $90 million for the biotech.

“Phathom represents a truly unique opportunity to launch a new company around a highly experienced, world-class team developing a late-stage product candidate supported by strong clinical data and commercial experience.”