Vifor Fresenius snap up rights to Cara’s itch therapy

pharmafile | May 23, 2018 | News story | Research and Development, Sales and Marketing Cara Therapeutics, Vifor Fresenius, biotech, drugs, pharma, pharmaceutical 

The joint partnership between Vifor Pharma and Fresenius Medical Care, Vifor Fresenius, has put down $50 in upfront cash and an equity investment of $20 million to gain the Ex-US, Japan and South Korea rights to Cara Therapeutics’ Korsuva.

Beyond the immediate $70 million investment, the deal is also back loaded with a potential $470 million in regulatory and commercial milestones.

The deal highlights a remarkable turnaround for Cara and its sole drug candidate, Korsuva. It suffered a massive ding to its deemed potential, after showing some shaky results as an oral formulation for the treatment of arthritis.

However, since then, it has hit back by pursuing a new usage to prevent itching associated with the treatment of chronic kidney disease and this is the indication that Vifor Fresenius has gained the rights for. Should it receive approval, it would become a first-in-class therapy.

The treatment itself has been interesting to investors because it is an opioid-based therapy that does not act on the central nervous system, meaning it bypasses the risk of opioid addiction – an area of huge concern for the US.

“CR845 injection is a first-in-class, innovative investigational medicine for treating a highly debilitating disease. It is a natural fit to our leading product portfolio in nephrology, and we look forward to making it available to patients who urgently need better therapy,” said Stefan Schulze, Vifor Pharma President of the Executive Committee and COO. “60 to 70% of dialysis patients experience CKD-aP. Nearly 20% suffer from a very severe form, which is associated with much lower survival. And despite this clear unmet medical need, there is no approved treatment for CKD-aP in Europe or the US CR845 does not penetrate the brain and so bypasses unwanted side-effects like opioid addiction. It has significant potential for setting new standards in providing relief, both from CKD- induced itching and post-operative pain.”

As mentioned by Schulze, Cara also had a clinical trial running looking into the treatments benefits for the alleviation of post-operative pain. Any further indication the company manages to scoop up it would retain the rights to, as this current deal only covers chronic kidney disease-associated pruritus in dialysis patients.

Ben Hargreaves

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