Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd ( TEVA )
recently announced a deal that will expand the company's central
nervous system (CNS) pipeline. Teva acquired all rights, assets and
obligations relating to Huntexil (pridopidine / ACR16) from
NeuroSearch. Huntexil is being developed for the symptomatic
treatment of hand movement, balance and gait disturbances in
Huntington disease (HD).
Per the terms of the agreement, NeuroSearch will receive
approximately $26 million (DKK 150 million) from Teva over a
time-period of at least six months. NeuroSearch is also entitled to
receive additional funds in the form of regulatory and
commercialization milestone payments.
Although NeuroSearch had conducted late-stage studies with
Huntexil in the US, EU and Canada, results from these studies were
found insuffient for the purpose of gaining approval from the US
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as the European
Medicines Agency (EMA). Huntexil, which showed a significant
treatment effect on Total Motor Score, failed to meet the primary
endpoint (Modified Total Motor score).
Teva plans to conduct new clinical studies with Huntexil. The
successful development of the candidate would allow Teva to enter a
market that has significant unmet need. According to the company,
about one in 10,000 people in North America and Europe are affected
by Huntington disease. Death could occur within 15-25 years of
Lundbeck's Xenazine (tetrabenazine) is approved for the
treatment of the involuntary movements (chorea) of Huntington's
disease. However, the treatment is associated with major side
effects like suicidality and depression. We note that companies
like Pfizer ( PFE )
and Medivation ( MDVN )
were unsuccessful in their development plans for a Huntington
disease treatment (dimebon).
We currently have a Neutral recommendation on Teva, which
carries a Zacks #3 Rank (short-term 'Hold' rating). We expect
investor focus to remain on Teva's update on its strategic plan in
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