Almirall takes option on Dermira’s eczema drug lebrikizumab

Spain’s Almirall has taken an option granting rights to develop and market Dermira’s eczema drug lebrikizumab in Europe, in a bid to take on Sanofi/Regeneron’s recently approved Dupixent.

The companies had struck an option and license agreement in February which granted Almirall European rights to the drug in atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, and certain other indications.

Barcelona-based Almirall paid $30 million up front to Dermira and will pay a further $50 million now that it has exercised the option.

Dermira will receive further payments if certain goals are met, including $30 million for beginning certain phase 3 clinical trials, and up to $85 million upon completing certain regulatory milestones and the first commercial sale in Europe.

Almirall took the decision after topline results reported by Dermira from a phase 2b dose-ranging study showed that all three doses of lebrikizumab met the trial’s primary goal.

The drug, which inhibits interleukin (IL)-13, showed dose-dependent improvements across a range of measures in patients, such as itch and skin inflammation, in patients with moderate-to-severe disease when compared with placebo.

Almirall thinks that the results suggest that lebrikizumab has the potential to outperform already marketed drugs such as Sanofi and Regeneron’s recently approved Dupixent (dupilumab), which is tipped to become a blockbuster after approval in eczema and asthma.

Following an end of phase 2 meeting with the FDA, Dermira plans to begin a phase 3 development programme for lebrikizumab by the end of the year.

Lebrikizumab works by binding with IL-13 with very high affinity, preventing formation of a certain protein complex and a set of biologic signals that are linked with eczema.

IL-13 is thought to drive multiple aspects of the disease by promoting type 2 inflammation resulting in skin barrier dysfunction, itch, skin thickening and infection.

Tom Wiggans, chairman and chief executive officer of Dermira, said: As we look to initiate our Phase 3 program by the end of this year, Dermira is pleased to partner with Almirall to potentially bring this exciting new treatment option to patients in Europe, while we continue to pursue development and potential commercialisation in the United States.

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