Peripherally acting phase 1 pain drug acquired in $940Million deal.
Yesterday (25th Aug 2020) saw the announcement that ACADIA Pharmaceuticals acquires privately held Dallas, TX-based CerSci Therapeutics, a developer of treatments for pain and other neurological conditions, for $52.5M, primarily in ACAD common stock.
CerSci equity holders are eligible to receive up to $887M in development, commercial and sales milestones and tiered mid-single-digit royalties on net sales.
CerSci's lead candidate is the Phase 1-stage CT-044 for neuropathic pain and post-surgical pain. Phase 2 is currently aimed to be starting in the second half of 2021. CerSci’s website suggests the compound works via a TRPA1 mechanism.
This deal comes when more pressure is being put onto the CNS active analgesics pregabalin and gabapentin, which share the same mechanism of action as each other and are collectively known as gabapentinoids.
Gabapentinoids are the No. 1 treatment for neuropathic pain and there is a dramatic increase in prescription rates which is linked to the opioid crisis and lack of alternative treatments.
However, there are increasing concerns about abuse and a disturbing rise in deaths associated with their use.
The FDA themselves warned about the ‘next wave’ of drug abuse: opioid substitutes, where they specifically highlight gabapentinoids, and last year pregabalin and gabapentin were reclassified as a class C drug in the U.K.
New analgesics which target the peripheral source of pain are likely to have a huge advantage over CNS compounds as they will clearly be devoid of abuse issues - I believe there will be an increased burden on CNS analgesics to demonstrate extensively that they do not share the same liability as opioids and gabapentinoids.