Biogen Idec grabs Convergence, neuropathic pain portfolio in $675M buyout

Back last summer the U.K.'s Convergence Pharmaceuticals, a spinout from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), was feeling bullish about its prospects after it wrapped up a positive mid-stage study of its lead drug for neuropathic pain. But rather than take the risky step of mounting an IPO--still a tough prospect in the U.K.--Convergence instead opted to sell to Biogen Idec ($BIIB), which is using the acquisition to beef up its pipeline in the field.

Biogen on Sunday said that it had agreed to pay $200 million in an upfront cash payment to Convergence's investors, promising up to $475 million more in milestones if the drug continues to look promising in clinical studies. The deal gives Biogen Idec CNV1014802 and a portfolio of ion channel-modulating drugs. And you can chalk up another biotech deal story to the frenzied news pace that surrounds this year's JP Morgan event in San Francisco.

Convergence has been taking a genetically defined approach to identifying patients for CNV1014802. In the study, prescreened patients with trigeminal neuralgia (TGN), a severe form of facial pain, were given three 150 mg doses of the small-molecule therapy per day.

"In the primary endpoint of the study there was a treatment failure rate of just 33% for CNV1014802 vs 65% for placebo and a favorable separation from placebo on the Kaplan Meier time to relapse," the biotech reported at the time. "CNV1014802 showed a 2.3 unit decrease in the NRS scale for pain intensity, 60% reduction in paroxysms vs. 12% in placebo and pain severity dropped by 55% vs. 18% placebo, by the end of the study." 

Biogen Idec already has a mid-stage neuropathic pain drug called neublastin. But the company noted today that it plans to leave Convergence in the U.K., in the hands of the biotech's CSO, Simon Tate.

"Neuropathic pain is an area of significant unmet need and represents a natural complement to our current neurology portfolio," said Douglas Williams, executive vice president of research and development at Biogen Idec. "The team at Convergence has pioneered some of the most innovative science in pain management. We believe their industry-leading talent, capabilities and pipeline of candidates, starting with CNV1014802, will provide a strong foundation upon which to expand our neuropathic pain portfolio."

- here's the release