Drug Research
Drug Discovery & Development

Cara out-licenses Korsuva injection ex-US rights to Vifor Fresenius for $520m

PBR Staff Writer Published 24 May 2018

Cara Therapeutics has granted licensing worldwide rights with the exception of the US, Japan and South Korea to commercialize its Korsuva (CR845/difelikefalin) injection to Vifor Fresenius Medical Care Renal Pharma (VFMCRP).

The deal is expected to fetch about $520m to the US-based Cara Therapeutics.

The licensing of Korsuva, an anti-itching and anti-pain injection, with VFMCRP will be only for its future use in the treatment of chronic kidney disease-associated pruritus (CKD-aP) in dialysis patients while Cara will retain all rights for it in other indications.

VFMCRP, which is a joint venture of Switzerland-based Vifor Pharma Group and Germany-based Fresenius Medical Care, is focused on developing treatments for CKD.

Cara Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical firm engaged in the development and commercialization of new drugs designed to alleviate pruritus and pain by preferentially targeting peripheral kappa opioid receptors.

Cara Therapeutics president and CEO Derek Chalmers said: “As a global leader in providing treatment for chronic kidney disease patients, VFMCRP is an ideal partner to bring KORSUVA injection to dialysis patients across Europe and other licensed territories.”

Korsuva currently has a breakthrough therapy designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for CKD-aP. As of now, no therapies have been approved for the indication in both the US and the European Union.

Vifor Pharma executive committee president and COO Stefan Schulze said: “Sixty to 70% of dialysis patients experience CKD-aP. Nearly 20% suffer from a very severe form, which is associated with much lower survival.

“And despite this clear unmet medical need, there is no approved treatment for CKD-aP in Europe or the U.S. CR845 does not penetrate the brain and so bypasses unwanted side-effects like opioid addiction.”

As per the terms of the licensing deal, Cara will receive $50m as upfront payment. VFMCRP will also buy a $20m worth stake in Cara at a price of nearly $17/share.

The US biopharmaceutical company will also be eligible for further payments of up to $470m, made up of $30m in regulatory payments and up to $440m in tiered commercial milestones, related to sales of the injection.

Cara will also be eligible to get tiered royalties depending on net sales of Korsuva injection in the licensed countries.

Image: VFMCRP to buy licensing rights of Korsuva injection for the treatment of CKD-aP. Photo: courtesy of Baitong333/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.