The UK's Vectura Group stirred up some excitement today as it unveiled a lineup of three new development programs headed to the clinic and talked up its chances of signing a collaborator to develop VR315--a generic asthma drug--for the U.S. market.
Vectura CEO Chris Blackwell told Dow Jones that he's had a number of queries about a U.S. deal for VR315, widely seen as a generic competitor to Glaxo's Advair. Sandoz, a division of Novartis, returned its U.S. rights to the drug earlier this year due to worries over the uncertain regulatory pathway to an approval. Sandoz held on to the European rights for the therapy, which Vectura believes could produce up to $250 million a year in revenue.
Vectura's travails revolving around VR315 has helped prompt the developer to tap three new drugs for clinical testing as it bumps its growing R&D budget by 10 percent. Blackwell says that VR461, a treatment for fungal infections in the lung, VR090 for lung transplant rejections and VR506, another asthma therapy, will all enter the clinic later in the year.
Piper Jaffray noted that "this is a welcome development as the company has not taken a new product into the clinic for a while."
"We are encouraged by recent progress, not least the revelation that VR315 is in the regulatory phase in Europe and the confirmation of Novartis' progress with NVA237/QVA149 which carries $157.5m in milestone payments, plus a single digit royalty on sales," notes FinnCap analyst Keith Redpath.