BOSTON - Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (Nasdaq: VRTX) announced that it has entered into a licensing agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for the worldwide development and commercialization of VX-787, a novel medicine discovered by Vertex for the treatment of influenza. As part of the agreement, Vertex will receive an up-front payment of $30 million from Janssen and has the potential to receive additional development and commercial milestone payments as well as royalties on future product sales. Vertex completed a Phase 2a study of VX-787 in 2013 that showed statistically significant improvements in viral and clinical measurements of influenza infection. VX-787 is designed to directly inhibit replication of the influenza virus.
"With a deep history in developing new medicines for viral infections and diseases, Janssen is well-positioned to advance the global development of VX-787 for the treatment of influenza," said Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vertex. "This collaboration provides important support for the continued development of VX-787 in influenza and contributes to our financial strength to enable continued investment in our key development programs for cystic fibrosis and in research aimed at discovering new medicines."
Under the terms of the collaboration, Janssen will have full global development and commercialization rights to VX-787. Vertex will receive a $30 million up-front payment from Janssen and could receive additional development and commercial milestone payments as well as royalties on future product sales. The collaboration, and the related $30 million up-front payment, is subject to the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.
VX-787 is an investigational medicine that is designed to directly inhibit replication of influenza A, including recent H1 (pandemic) and H5 (avian) influenza strains, based on in-vitro data. VX-787's mechanism represents a new class of potential medicines for the treatment of influenza, distinct from neuraminidase inhibitors, the current standard of care for the treatment of influenza. VX-787 is intended to provide a rapid onset of action and an expanded treatment window.
In a Phase 2a influenza challenge study, statistically significant improvements in viral and clinical measurements of influenza infection were observed after treatment with VX-787. The study met its primary endpoint and showed a statistically significant decrease in the amount of virus in nasal secretions (viral shedding) over the seven-day study period. In addition, at the highest dosing regimen evaluated in the study, there was a statistically significant reduction in the severity and duration of influenza-like symptoms. In this study, VX-787 was generally well-tolerated, with no adverse events leading to discontinuation. Those who took part in the study volunteered to be experimentally exposed to an attenuated form of live H3N2 influenza A virus. H3N2 is a common type of influenza virus and was the most common type observed in the 2012/2013 influenza season in the United States.