Vifor commits €25M to nephrology R&D joint venture with Evotec

Partners Vifor Pharma and Evotec will split the cost of clinical development in their nephrology joint venture. (Evotec)

Vifor Pharma has committed €25 million ($28 million) to a nephrology joint venture with Evotec. The initiative will see Evotec mine a kidney biobank for new renal therapy targets before the joint venture out-licenses resulting assets to Vifor.

Evotec and Vifor will each own half of the joint venture but will contribute and get different things from the partnership. For Vifor, the collaboration provides a potential source of nephrology drugs that it can license once they get to the registration and commercialization stage. Vifor is putting up €25 million in preclinical funding and will pay half of clinical and commercial costs to access the drugs. 

The preclinical funds will support Evotec’s activities. Evotec is providing clinical data from NURTuRE, a U.K, kidney biobank, to support the joint venture’s search for new targets. Upon identifying a renal disease target, Evotec will use its drug discovery and development capabilities to take drugs against it forward. The partners expect the €25 million to support early-stage work on multiple programs.

Evotec, which made its name in preclinical research, will contribute 50% of the cost of clinical trials while relying on Vifor to sell products that win approval. The decision to remain involved in assets once they reach the clinic reflects a belief it will benefit Evotec financially.

“This will allow Evotec to participate in the value generation of clinical development,” Evotec Chief Scientific Officer Cord Dohrmann said in a statement. 

The partners can opt out of the cost-sharing arrangement at each stage of development. The opt-out comes with a predetermined profit share arrangement, enabling the exiting partner to recoup their investment without taking a candidate all the way to registration.

News of the Evotec joint venture comes days after Vifor revealed it will jointly commercialize Johnson & Johnson’s Invokana in diabetic kidney disease. Vifor management previously committed to signing one in-licensing deal, product acquisition or corporate transaction in 2019.