Abbott hits the sweet spot, pays $110M cash for PhIIb drug

Still wheeling and dealing on the road up to its spinoff this year, the drug arm of Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) has snagged Action Pharma's Phase IIb program for acute kidney injury with a one-time payment of $110 million in cash. The deal hits Abbott's sweet spot, adding an advanced drug program to the pipeline which can neatly complement other late-stage therapies.

The cash deal delivers AP214, in development to prevent acute kidney injury associated with major cardiac surgery. The treatment is a hormone analogue that "targets both systemic inflammation and apoptosis caused by hypoxia" which is a crimp in blood flow that can occur during surgery. Last fall Action Pharma reported that it had achieved positive Phase IIb results. Abbott will now mount another Phase IIb study, planned for later in the year.

"Clinical experience with AP214 in cardiac surgery patients suggests that it has the potential to be the first compound specifically approved to prevent acute kidney injury, a long-standing unmet need in the medical community," said John Leonard, Abbott's senior vice president, pharmaceuticals, research and development. "This acquisition complements and broadens Abbott's late-stage renal care pipeline and builds on our existing experience in treating kidney disease."

Abbott is already in an ambitious Phase III study of bardoxolone, a chronic kidney disease drug it partnered on with Reata Pharmaceuticals. An in-house program for atrasentan is being studied in a Phase IIb trial in patients with diabetic kidney disease.

The deal is unusual among biopharma partnerships. Abbott gets all rights for the lump sum payment, with no milestones or royalties due. And Action, a Danish biotech, gets the cash without risking a clinical setback. Zealand Pharma, meanwhile, gets $11 million for its stake in the program, along with the rights to a low, single-digit royalty.

A couple of months ago Abbott inked a $1.35 billion licensing pact with Galapagos on GLPG0634, a JAK1 inhibitor for rheumatoid arthritis. And late last year Abbott built up its deal with Reata, paying $400 million for rights to its second-gen portfolio coming up behind bardoxolone.

- here's the press release