Pasadena-based Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals In Line For First $25 Million Milestone Payment

Published : Monday, May 6, 2019 | 4:49 AM

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Pasadena-headquartered pharmaceutical company developing medicines that treat intractable diseases by silencing the genes that cause them, has earned a $25 million milestone payment from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for its promising hepatitis B drug.

Arrowhead and Janssen’s current clinical trial involves more than 100 patients and is expected to be completed by the end of January 2020.

Arrowhead could eventually receive as much as $3.7 billion from Janssen if the hepatitis B drug proves to be successful.

Janssen pharmaceutical is a division of Johnson & Johnson.

In April, Arrowhead said it has begun dosing in a new triple combination cohort that includes JNJ-3989, formerly called ARO-HBV, and additional undisclosed agents selected by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in its ongoing Phase 1/2 study in patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV).

The $25 million payment is in connection with the start of this new cohort, Arrowhead said in a statement.

“Both Arrowhead and Janssen share the aim to advance transformational medicines that achieve higher rates of functional cure with a finite treatment duration for patients with chronic hepatitis B viral infection,” Dr. Christopher Anzalone, President and CEO at Arrowhead, said. “Beginning this new triple combination cohort in our ongoing AROHBV1001 study has the potential to generate valuable data rapidly.”

Under the initial terms of the HBV license agreement signed last October, Arrowhead was eligible to receive a $50 million milestone payment linked to a Phase 2 study.

Arrowhead and Janssen amended the agreement to accelerate the payment of half of the $50 million Phase 2 milestone with the initiation of cohort 12. Arrowhead is eligible to receive the remaining $25 million upon the initiation of a Janssen’s Phase 2 study.

Hepatitis B infection continues to be a life-threatening viral infection of the liver, which can cause cirrhosis – scarring of liver tissue – and liver cancer if the infection becomes chronic.

The World Health Organization cites that hepatitis B is a global public health problem with 257 million people living with the disease, resulting in 887,000 deaths in 2015. While a preventive vaccine is available, cure rates for those infected remain low and most patients will endure lifelong therapy.

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