Sun Pharma spends $576m to get hands on hair loss drug

By Ben Hargreaves

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags hair loss Sun pharma Pharmaceutical industry inflammatory diseases

The Indian company decides to purchase Concert Pharmaceuticals, which is developing deuruxolitinib as a potential treatment for alopecia areata.

Sun Pharma will spend $576m (€532m) to acquire Concert Pharmaceuticals and its lead asset, deuruxolitinib (CTP-543).

Concert Pharma shareholders will also receive a non-tradable contingent value right to receive up to an additional $3.50 per share of common stock, depending on whether its lead asset hits certain sales milestones. The transaction has already been approved by the board of directors of both companies.

The asset itself, deuruxolitinib, has completed Phase III trials to treat adult patients with moderate-to-severe alopecia areata, with two open label, long-term extension studies ongoing in North America and Europe.

Deuruxolitinib is an oral inhibitor of Janus kinases (JAKs) JAK1 and JAK2. JAKs play a role in the immune system, and there are a number of approved treatments​ that targets these enzymes. The approved treatments target chronic inflammatory disorders, such as arthritis, atopic dermatitis, and alopecia areata.

In June 2022​, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first JAK inhibitor for the condition, when Eli Lilly’s Olumiant (baricitinib) received approval for the indication. In third quarter financials, Eli Lilly stated that the product secured sales of $182.9m, though part of this figure arrive from selling the treatment for COVID-19.

Sun Pharma stated that it plans to submit a new drug application (NDA) to the FDA in the first half of 2023, following Concert’s previously arranged timeline.

“Sun Pharma is building a global dermatology and ophthalmology franchise and aims to be a preferred development and commercial partner in these therapies worldwide. The acquisition of Concert adds a late-stage, potential best-in-class treatment for alopecia areata in deuruxolitinib,” said Abhay Gandhi, CEO North America, Sun Pharma.

The decision to build out a branded, proprietary portfolio is a shift in overall strategy for the company. Sun Pharma has predominantly established itself as a manufacturer of generic products, as well as over-the-counter products, and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The company is the fourth-largest specialty generics manufacturer in the world.

As well as gaining access to deuruxolitinib, the acquisition allows Sun Pharma to benefit from several strategic collaborations that Concert Pharma possesses. The company has three licensing agreements for drug candidates it developed through its DCE platform. 

Concert previously sold an asset to Vertex Pharmaceuticals, VX-561, with the latter company purchasing all future milestone payments due to the former for $32m in 2021.

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