Daiichi Sankyo bets up to $650M on Charleston's pain potential

Daiichi Sankyo, Japan's second-largest pharma outfit, has agreed to pay up to $650 million to get its hands on some hydrocodone combo medications, striking a deal with Charleston Laboratories with hopes of cashing in on the demand for pain pills.

Headlining the agreement is Charleston's top prospect, CL-108, a fixed-dose combination of hydrocodone, promethazine and acetaminophen that recently came through in a 465-patient late stage trial. The treatment is designed to at once relieve pain and reduce symptoms of opioid-induced nausea and vomiting, and, in Phase III, CL-108 met its co-primary endpoints on both measures at high statistical significance, Charleston said.

In exchange for a cut of the drug's future U.S. revenue, Daiichi is handing over an up-front $100 million payout to Charleston, plus another $100 million tied to an undisclosed near-term milestone, the companies said.

Beyond CL-108, Daiichi is on the line for as much as $450 million more tied to future fixed-dose hydrocodone products, promising to mete out payments as new treatments are filed and approved.

The deal falls in right in line with Charleston's business model, founder and Chief Operating Officer Ryan Baker said, under which the drugmaker develops proprietary pain assets with the goal of luring collaborators to get them on the market.

"From our inception, it has been our goal to identify an industry-leading partner that is patient-focused, with a shared appreciation for the importance of educating healthcare providers on the significant issue of opioid-induced nausea and vomiting," Baker said in a statement. "Daiichi Sankyo has successfully commercialized several medicines in the United States, and we feel they are the ideal strategic fit for Charleston's lead asset, CL-108."

With the Daiichi agreement pending, Charleston's top unpartnered asset is CL-H1T, a Phase II migraine treatment that pairs sumatriptan with an anti-emetic.

- read the statement