The health care sector witnessed several collaborations last
week, including a couple related to immuno-oncology.
Another deal was struck between
Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc.
) and Omthera Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of
). The companies announced a licensing and research deal under
which they will develop novel candidates utilizing Ligand's LTP
technology platform for the treatment of dyslipidemia, including
A recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey analysis
in the U.S. showed that the percentage of patients suffering from
severe hypertriglyceridemia is rising sharply with rise in obesity.
Terms of the Deal
Ligand will receive up to $44.5 million from AstraZeneca on the
achievement of specific milestones. Additionally, Ligand will
receive tiered mid-to-high single digit royalties on net sales of
the products to be developed.
Moreover, Omthera will bear the total cost of research and
development as well as commercialization of any product developed
under this collaboration.
We are positive on the agreement between Ligand and AstraZeneca.
The agreement should be beneficial for Ligand since it is gaining a
strong partner in the form of AstraZeneca. AstraZeneca's competency
in molecule discovery, design and targeting combined with Omthera's
proficiency in the field of lipid disorders will strengthen
Ligand's development efforts for the treatment of
Moreover, the terms of the deal look favorable − all costs related
to development of the novel candidates will be borne by Omthera.
Some drugs approved for the treatment of severe
hypertriglyceridemia include AstraZeneca's Epanova and
Ligand carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Ligand has partnered
programs with several companies and is awaiting several regulatory
events. We expect 2014 to be a catalyst rich year for Ligand.
A better-ranked stock in the biotech sector is
Gilead Sciences Inc.
) carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
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