United Therapeutics pays $800 million upfront for rights to Arena's experimental PAH drug ralinepag

United Therapeutics agreed to pay $800 million upfront under a deal to gain exclusive, global rights to develop Arena Pharmaceuticals' experimental pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) therapy ralinepag, the companies announced Thursday. As part of the agreement, Arena is also eligible to receive milestone payments totalling up to $400 million, as well as low double-digit tiered royalties on annual net sales.  

Ralinepag, a next-generation, oral, prostacyclin receptor agonist, also known as APD811, is currently in Phase III development for PAH. Last year, Arena reported positive Phase II study results, with ralinepag demonstrating a significant absolute change from baseline in pulmonary vascular resistance compared to placebo.

Martine Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapeutics, said "we have conducted extensive due diligence on ralinepag," adding "we are confident that after achieving FDA approval via at least one of its several different potential regulatory pathways to success, this product will help greater than 10 000 patients annually from the 2020s and well into the 2030s."  

Meanwhile, Arena CEO Amit Munshi commented "this transaction represents a significant milestone in the development of ralinepag and will strategically position Arena to aggressively advance our best-in-class pipeline, anchored by etrasimod and olorinab, with the focus and resources essential for long-term success." Shares in Arena surged as much as nearly 20 percent on the news. 

The transaction comes after United Therapeutics inked a deal in September, agreeing to in-license MannKind's experimental dry powder formulation of treprostinil for the treatment of PAH. For related analysis, see ViewPoints: Is United Therapeutics too intent on chasing its own tail?  

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