Dr. Klaus Paulini reports
AETERNA ZENTARIS AMENDS LICENSE AGREEMENT WITH NOVO NORDISK FOR COMMERCIALIZATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF MACIMORELIN
Aeterna Zentaris Inc., through a wholly owned subsidiary, has entered into an amendment of its existing licence agreement with Novo Nordisk Biopharm Ltd. (NNBL) related to the development and commercialization of macimorelin.
Under the terms of the original licence agreement, Novo Nordisk was granted the exclusive right to commercialize macimorelin in the United States and Canada. Novo Nordisk is currently marketing macimorelin in the U.S. under the trade name Macrilen for the diagnosis of adult growth hormone deficiency (AGHD). Aeterna, in collaboration with Novo Nordisk, is currently developing the expanded use of macimorelin for the diagnosis of childhood-onset growth hormone deficiency (CGHD), an area of significant unmet need. Aeterna has entered into the start-up phase for the clinical safety and efficacy study, study P02, evaluating macimorelin for the diagnosis of CGHD, which is expected to be initiated in Q1 of 2021.
Under the amendment, Aeterna continues to retain all rights to macimorelin outside of the U.S. and Canada but, in demonstration of Novo Nordisk's continued commitment to macimorelin, Novo Nordisk has agreed to make an immediate upfront payment to Aeterna of five million euros, which accelerates and replaces the $5-million (U.S.) later stage regulatory approval milestone that Novo Nordisk would have been required to pay only upon successful achievement of regulatory approval of macimorelin in the U.S. for the diagnosis of CGHD. Under the amendment, all other future potential commercialization milestone payments remain unchanged. In addition, under the amendment, Novo Nordisk and Aeterna have agreed that solely Aeterna will conduct the pivotal study P02 in partnership with a contract research organization. Given the full transfer of development activities to Aeterna, Novo Nordisk is then adjusting the percentage of study P02 clinical trial costs that Novo Nordisk is required to reimburse to Aeterna from 70 per cent to 100 per cent of costs up to nine million euros, and includes reimbursement of Aeterna's budgeted internal labour costs. Any additional external jointly approved study P02 trial costs incurred over nine million euros will be shared equally between Novo Nordisk and Aeterna. To reflect Novo Nordisk's additional and earlier investment in macimorelin, the royalty payment Aeterna receives on sales in the U.S. and Canada will be reduced from 15 per cent to 8.5 per cent for annual net sales up to $40-million (U.S.) and returns to 15 per cent or more for annual net sales of macimorelin over $40-million (U.S.).
Under the amendment, both companies will continue to closely co-ordinate the activities related to the development and commercialization of macimorelin in the U.S. and Canada through a joint steering committee, with each party having decision rights in certain areas. Novo Nordisk will also receive co-ownership of the U.S. and Canadian patents and trademarks owned by Aeterna on macimorelin but will be required to transfer co-ownership in those patents back to Aeterna on the occurrence of certain termination events.
In addition, upon regulatory approval of macimorelin in the U.S. for the diagnosis of CGHD, if Novo Nordisk determines not to commercialize macimorelin in Canada, then Aeterna has the option to exclusively licence rights to macimorelin in Canada (but not in U.S.) to a third party. The amendment also confirms that Aeterna has the right to use the results from study P02, if successful, to support Aeterna seeking regulatory approval and continuing efforts to seek partnering opportunities for macimorelin in Europe and other regions outside of the two countries licensed to Novo Nordisk, the U.S. and Canada.
"We are pleased with our continued partnership with Novo Nordisk and the work we are doing to advance the expanded use of macimorelin for the diagnosis of CGHD after successfully completing the dose range finding study P01," commented Dr. Klaus Paulini, chief executive officer of Aeterna Zentaris. "The amendment of the licence agreement with Novo Nordisk puts a significant emphasis on the importance of our pediatric co-development of macimorelin and Novo Nordisk's commitment to the continued commercialization and expansion of macimorelin. The amendment lowers not only our financial obligation for conducting study P02, but also provides us with the benefit of an upfront non-dilutive payment of five million euros."
The amendment will be filed on SEDAR. The foregoing description of the terms of the amendment does not purport to be complete and is qualified in its entirety by reference to the amendment.
About Aeterna Zentaris Inc.
Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty biopharmaceutical company commercializing and developing therapeutics and diagnostic tests. The company's lead product, macimorelin, is the first and only U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Commission approved oral test indicated for the diagnosis of adult growth hormone deficiency (AGHD). Macimorelin is currently marketed in the United States under the trade name Macrilen through a licence agreement with Novo Nordisk where Aeterna Zentaris receives royalties on sales. Aeterna Zentaris owns all rights to macimorelin outside of the U.S. and Canada.
Aeterna Zentaris is also leveraging the clinical success and compelling safety profile of macimorelin to develop it for the diagnosis of childhood-onset growth hormone deficiency (CGHD), an area of significant unmet need.
The company is actively pursuing business development opportunities for the commercialization of macimorelin in Europe and the rest of the world, in addition to other non-strategic assets to monetize their value.
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