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Akebia expands anemia drug collaboration with Otsuka

PBR Staff Writer Published 26 April 2017

US-based Akebia Therapeutics has expanded its collaboration with Japan's Otsuka Pharmaceutical on an anemia treatment.

The companies have signed an agreement in December 2016 to jointly develop and commercialize the drug, called vadadustat.

The deal called for Akebia to receive $265m in committed funds, and up to $765m in potential milestone payments.

The expanded deal covers development and commercialization in Europe, China and other territories, with Akebia set to receive $208m in committed funds and up to $657m in milestone payments.

Akebia will also receive double-digit royalties on up to 30% of net sales of vadadustat within Otsuka’s defined territory.

Vadadustat is an oral hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) stabilizer, which is presently under a phase 3 development for the treating anemia associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Akebia president and CEO John Butler said: "We now have a single, strong collaborator for the two largest markets, the U.S. and Europe. This simplifies governance and decision making, maximizing the efficiency of our global Phase 3 development program and ultimately the commercialization of vadadustat.

“We are able to accomplish this while obtaining substantial funding for our vadadustat development program and retaining significant long-term value for Akebia."

Otsuka Pharmaceutical president and representative director Tatsuo Higuchi said: "Thanks to Akebia's expertise in developing vadadustat, we anticipate that it holds significant promise for renal anemia.

“We are also convinced that by strengthening our cardio-renal portfolio with a drug candidate like this, following our own tolvaptan, we can contribute to changing the standard of care worldwide for patients with complex kidney diseases."

From all the collaborations for vadadustat, the total committed development funding along with Akebia’s cash is likely to be more than $600m.

Akebia has now secured three major collaborations for vadadustat in less than 12 months which have a combined potential value of $2.2bn and include over $573m in form of upfront payments and agreed development funding.