Novartis to buy chronic pain drug developer Spinifex Pharmaceuticals

Novartis International AG, today struck a deal to buy Spinifex Pharmaceuticals, Inc, a company focused on the development of new drugs for the treatment of chronic pain, for $200 million plus milestone payments.

Under the terms of the deal, in addition to the upfront payment of $200 million, Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis will pay additional money contingent on future clinical development and regulatory milestones.

Spinifex is an US-Australian biotechnology company that develops new drug candidates for the treatment and management of chronic pain.

Founded in 2005 and based in Stamford, Connecticut, USA, and Melbourne, Australia, Spinifex' lead product is EMA401, under development as a potential first-in-class oral treatment for chronic pain without CNS side effects.

Spinifex's investors are Novo A/S, Canaan Partners, GBS Venture Partners, Brandon Capital Partners, Uniseed and UniQuest (University of Queensland, Australia).

EMA401, a novel angiotensin II type 2 (AT2) receptor antagonist, is being developed by Spinifex as a potential first-in-class oral treatment for chronic pain, particularly neuropathic pain, without central nervous system side effects.

Novartis said that it will continue the development of EMA401 and will initiate Phase 2b clinical trials in patients with painful diabetic neuropathy (PHN) or postherpetic neuralgia (PDN).

Novartis also intends to build on these two key indications and pursue a broad peripheral neuropathic pain label for EMA401.

Tom McCarthy, Spinifex's president and CEO, said, "This acquisition by Novartis is a testament to the significant progress our team has made in developing an entirely new approach to the treatment of chronic pain and particularly neuropathic pain."

"The success of Spinifex and the tremendous potential for EMA401 to help patients suffering from neuropathic pain is a significant example of how an international venture capital syndicate, partnering with Australian based investors, can bring university technology closer to commercialization,'' said Heath Lukatch, Spinifex's chairman.