BioCryst Licenses Flu Drug to CSL, Gains Cash For Rare Disease Work

June 27, 2015

BioCryst Pharmaceuticals has licensed the rights to its influenza drug to CSL Limited, a $45 million deal that allows BioCryst to focus entirely on developing rare disease drugs.

In signing away the rights to peramivir (Rapivab)—the Durham, NC, company’s only FDA-approved drug so far—BioCryst (NASDAQ:BCRX) gets $33.7 million up front, and stands to gain up to $12 million in additional payments if CSL (ASX: CSL) can hit sales targets with the drug. The agreement gives Australia-based CSL rights to commercialize peramivir throughout the world, with the exception of South Korea, Japan, and Israel. BioCryst had previously licensed peramivir rights for South Korea and Japan, where the drug has been commercially available since 2010. BioCryst has a separate collaboration for developing and commercializing the drug in Israel.

BioCryst stock was trading around $13 per share this morning, up about 3 percent from yesterday’s $12.65 closing price.

Peramivir, an injectable drug, works by inhibiting the release of neuraminidase, an enzyme that affects the release of viral particles. The effect of the drug is to reduce the amount of virus in the body. BioCryst discovered and developed peramivir under a $234.8 million contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). The FDA approved the drug last December.

CSL will commercialize peramivir through its subsidiary, bioCSL, which focuses on providing seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines throughout the world. CSL, which specializes in injectable drugs, has been building a presence in the influenza space. Last year, it acquired the flu vaccine business of Novartis (NYSE: NVS) for $275 million. That deal included Novartis’s vaccine manufacturing facility in Holly Springs, NC, which was launched under a government contract to build a facility that could quickly manufacture vaccine in the event of a flu outbreak.

In a prepared statement, BioCryst CEO Jon Stonehouse said that licensing peramivir to CSL puts the drug in the hands of a company well-suited to sell the drug in the U.S. and pursue additional approvals throughout the world. He added that the deal also provides BioCryst capital to finance its work on rare disease drugs. Of BioCryst’s 50 employees, 35 work in research and development.

The company’s drug pipeline currently includes BCX4430, a potential treatment for hemorrhagic fevers, such as Marburg and Ebola viral infections; andBCX4161, a potential treatment for hereditary angioedema, a genetic disorder that leads to inflammation and swelling, often around the eyes and lips. In instances where the disorder leads to constriction of the airway, that swelling can be fatal.


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