Teva scraps Heptares migraine pact as lead drug nears clinic

Teva CEO Kåre Schultz (Image: News Oresund/CC BY 2.0)

Teva has pulled out of a migraine R&D pact with Sosei’s Heptares. The Israeli pharma, which paid $10 million (€8 million) and committed to up to $400 million in milestones in 2015 to collaborate with Heptares on CGRP antagonists, has bailed before the first program hit the clinic.

Sosei framed Teva’s action as a result of the R&D review that recently-installed CEO Kåre Schultz initiated late last year as part of sweeping changes intended to stop the rot at the once-high-flying drugmaker. 

Those changes cost Michael Hayden, M.D., Ph.D., his job, meaning the Heptares collaboration went into the R&D review without the support of the CSO who oversaw the deal. Hayden saw Heptares’ CGRP antagonists as a good fit with Teva’s existing anti-CGRP antibody. But now Hayden is gone and the antibody, fre­manezumab, has lost ground in a fiercely competitive R&D race.

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The upshot is Sosei has gained full control of a CGRP antagonist that is due to enter clinical testing before the end of the year. Publicly available details of the drug, HTL0022562, are scarce. But Sosei R&D chief Malcolm Weir has seen enough in the preclinical dataset to commit to “rapidly” moving the candidate into phase 1.

Exactly when Sosei hits go on the clinical development plan will depend on the outcome of a review of the assets and data Teva is returning. Once the formal handover and review are complete, Sosei will provide an update on its plans. 

Sosei, which bought U.K.-based Heptares shortly before the Teva deal in 2015, is equipped to take the drug and other fruits of the CGRP collaboration forward. Having closed a $200 million follow-on financing late last year, the Japanese biopharma wrapped up 2017 with around $280 million in the bank.