Novartis picks up its development option in $700M rare-disease pact

Novartis ($NVS) has picked up its option on a Phase II-ready therapy for a pair of rare diseases from Sweden's Camarus, forking over a milestone included in their $700 million pact inked two years ago.

Novartis initially forked out a $10 million upfront for CAM2029, a long-acting octreotide product that has been developed "with the goal of easy subcutaneous administration in the treatment of patients with acromegaly (a rare condition involving an excess of growth hormones)" and neuroendocrine tumors. The experimental therapy has won the EMA's orphan drug designation for acromegaly and has been studied in three Phase I trials involving single and repeat dosing. Following the option exercise, Novartis now has responsibility for further clinical development of the drug, according to the biotech.

That $700 million deal includes a lineup of undisclosed milestones covering everything from development to commercialization. Neuroendocrine tumors gained the public spotlight recently after Apple CEO Steve Jobs was killed by the disease.

"Novartis' decision to acquire full commercialization rights to CAM2029 and related products is a key milestone for Camurus that further validates our advanced delivery technologies and clinical product development capacity," says CEO Fredrik Tiberg. "Novartis' continued investment in this program strengthens our strategic relationship and enables Camurus to expand its proprietary pipeline of new and innovative therapies for serious diseases."

- here's the press release