Lundbeck, Takeda enter strategic alliance for mood disorder, anxiety drugs

Lundbeck and Takeda announced a strategic alliance to co-develop and co-market several compounds in Lundbeck's pipeline to treat mood and anxiety disorders for the US and Japanese markets. Lundbeck could garner up to $385 million from the agreement, which includes Phase II candidate, Lu AA21004, being tested in major depressive disorder.

Under the terms of the deal, Takeda will make an upfront payment of $40 million to Lundbeck, which will also be eligible to receive up to $345 million in additional milestone payments. Takeda will pay for most of the development costs, while Lundbeck will receive a share of US and Japanese sales for any commercialised products, as well as royalties on Takeda's share of revenues. The companies will also co-promote any approved drugs in the US and Japan, although Lundbeck CEO Claus Braestrup disclosed that Lundbeck plans to hire sales staff in the US to market the drugs to specialists, while Takeda will be responsible for selling to general practitioners.

In addition to Lu AA21004, the initial collaboration will also focus on Lu AA24530, but the companies noted that the agreement could be expanded to include two other compounds from the same class. Braestrup commented that if clinical testing is successful, he expects Lu AA21004 to reach the market in 2011, and Lu AA24530 less than a year later. The executive added that data from animal trials show that Lu AA21004 works faster and is more effective than the company’s Lexapro, which is expected to lose US patent protection in 2012.

Commenting on the news, Sydbank analyst Rune Majlund Dahl remarked that the $40 million upfront payment to Lundbeck is lower than expected, but it’s still “a good deal'' for the Danish company since both Lu AA21004 and Lu AA24530 are potential blockbusters. Braestrup further indicated that while the agreement is "a step in addressing investors' concerns," the company plans to "look for products and...for potential acquisition candidates."

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