Pharma

GSK’s Stiefel to acquire psoriasis, eczema compound from Welichem

GlaxoSmithKline‘s (NYSE:GSK) dermatology subsidiary Stiefel is building up its drug pipeline with a deal in principal to acquire a skin treatment candidate from Welichem Biotech (TSX:WBI). Stiefel gets development and commercialization rights to anti-inflammatory compound WBI-1001, which is currently in phase 2 clinical development for treating psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema. The […]

GlaxoSmithKline‘s (NYSE:GSK) dermatology subsidiary Stiefel is building up its drug pipeline with a deal in principal to acquire a skin treatment candidate from Welichem Biotech (TSX:WBI).

Stiefel gets development and commercialization rights to anti-inflammatory compound WBI-1001, which is currently in phase 2 clinical development for treating psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema. The deal still needs approval by Welichem shareholders.

If Welichem shareholders give their OK, the Vancouver, British Columbia company will get an up-front payment of about $33.9 million. The company could receive additional milestone payments if WBI-1001 hits development milestones. Stiefel, based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, gets global rights to the compound outside of China, Taiwan, Macao and Hong Kong. But Stiefel also has a conditional right to acquire development and commercialization rights to those markets collectively. Exercising that right could trigger an additional payment of about $14.5 million to Welichem.

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A Deep-dive Into Specialty Pharma

A specialty drug is a class of prescription medications used to treat complex, chronic or rare medical conditions. Although this classification was originally intended to define the treatment of rare, also termed “orphan” diseases, affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the US, more recently, specialty drugs have emerged as the cornerstone of treatment for chronic and complex diseases such as cancer, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS.

The psoriasis market is large and growing. Psoriasis products totaled $4.5 billion in 2011 sales led by Amgen‘s (NASDAQ:AMGN) Enbrel, according to Research and Markets. Psoriasis sales are projected to reach $5.5 billion by 2020.

WBI-1001, Welichem’s lead drug candidate, was discovered with the company’s proprietary drug discovery technology platform. The nonsteroidal, topical anti-inflammatory drug candidate is being studied to treat mild to moderate psoriasis and moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. The company’s drug pipeline focuses on autoimmune and inflammatory disorders and cancers. Welichem’s cancer treatment candidate WBI-2100 is still in preclinical studies.

[Photo from Wikipedia]