Roche grabs rights to Chiasma's PhIII rare disease drug in $595M deal

Roche ($RHHBY) has tied up the worldwide commercial rights to Chiasma's Phase III drug for acromegaly, a rare and progressive disease caused by the over-production of growth hormone. The pharma giant paid $65 million upfront and promised up to $530 million more in milestones in order to nail down marketing rights to the oral drug. In the pact, Genentech will take over U.S. marketing if the FDA approves the treatment.

The pact is a high-profile coup for Chiasma, which has been advancing oral drugs on a platform designed to produce new therapies that can replace inconvenient injectables. If the Phase III study is positive, Roche would be positioned to take an oral drug up against Novartis' ($NVS) Sandostatin, the current standard of care. But Novartis has also reported upbeat results for Signifor, its Cushing's disease drug, for acromegaly.      

Just last summer Chiasma, an Israeli biotech technically based in the U.S., raised $38.5 million in a Series D designed to push Octreolin through the last stage of testing. Phase III is due to wrap up in the second quarter of this year. Abingworth and MPM Capital led the round, with additional cash from 7 Med Health Ventures, Arch Venture Partners, F3 Ventures, and Fredric Price, Chiasma's chair and CEO.

"If approved, Octreolin would be an important alternative for patients with acromegaly, a disorder that develops when a person's pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone," says Hal Barron, the worldwide development chief for Roche/Genentech. "Octreolin is an investigational oral regimen that avoids the painful injections of current treatment options."

Chiasma won orphan drug status at the FDA and is planning a similar move in Europe. Its technology coats small molecules in a way that prevents them from being absorbed in the digestive system, giving the active ingredient a shot at entering the bloodstream. In an interview with Globes last year, company officials said that the acromegaly market as a whole is worth about $500 million with a potential to expand its potential with an approval for neuroendocrine tumors, which is worth about $600 million.

- here's the press release

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