Amgen and Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals announced on Sept. 29 that the companies had signed two agreements to develop and commercialize RNA interference (RNAi) therapies for cardiovascular disease.
Arrowhead, which has a subcutaneous RNAi delivery platform, will receive $35 million in upfront payments from Amgen, according to a news release. Amgen also agreed to make a $21.5 million equity investment in Arrowhead’s common stock, which increased by more than 9 percent within three hours of the announcement.
Per the deal, Arrowhead will also receive up to $617 million in option payments as well as development, regulatory and sales milestone payments.
Amgen received an exclusive license to Arrowhead’s RNAi ARC-LPA program, which is designed to reduce production of apolipoprotein A, a component of lipoprotein(a). Amgen also received an option to exclusively license Arrowhead’s RNAi therapy for an undisclosed genetically validated cardiovascular target. Amgen will be responsible for clinical development and commercialization of the therapies.
The two agreements expanded Amgen’s cardiovascular portfolio. In July 2015, the FDA approved evolocumab (Repatha), the company’s proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin type 9 (PCSK9) inhibitor. Clinical trials showed that evolocumab significantly lowered low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, but sales of the medication have fallen short of expectations in part due to its high cost.
Earlier this month, Amgen announced that an intravascular ultrasound study evaluating evolocumab met its primary and secondary endpoints.
Amgen also agreed in September 2015 to acquire Dezima Pharma, a privately-held biotechnology company that is developing an oral, once-daily cholesteryl ester transfer protein inhibitor for patients with dyslipidemia.
In addition to its ARC-LPA program for cardiovascular disease, Arrowhead is developing medications for hepatitis B, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, thrombosis and angioedema and clear cell and renal cell carcinoma. None of its medications are FDA-approved.