In an attempt to revive back, Eli Lilly and Co (NYSE:LLY) is placing up a potentially huge gamble. The biotech firm is considering to lay $690 million behind a drug, which could possibly turn out to be the answer against an array of autoimmune diseases. The drug from Korea’s Hanmi Pharmaceuticals, is under huge interest of Eli Lilly.
According to the deal made by them, Eli Lilly and Co. will pay Hanmi $50 million upfront to buy the rights of HM71224. The drug is a small chemical compound molecule, which blocks the activity of the enzyme Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase (BTK), which is very similar to Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Pharmacyclic, Inc. (NASDAQ:PCYC) renowned drug Imbruvica. The only difference between these two drugs is that Hanmi’s drug is aimed towards treating autoimmune ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and the very uncommon disease of Sjogren’s syndrome.
The drug made by Hanmi seems to have cleared phase I under the proof-of-mechanism studies and according to them, backed with the success of Phase I. The company looks forward to roll into Phase II this year, for which it would pay another $640 million extra to Hanmi in development and sales milestones. While handling the development of the drug and manufacturing it outside Asia would be manged by Eli Lilly Hanmi would be eligible for double digit royalties on the forthcoming sales of the drug.
Presently, the field of autoimmunology is being largely dominated by anti-TNF drugs such as Enbrel and Humira and according to experts, there could be a surge of antibody therapies, which could potentially change the market. However, the fact that each of those therapies needs to be injected into the body, the oral treatment provided by HM71224 could provide alternatives to these medicines.
Earlier, Senior Vice President of Eli Lilly, Thomas Bumol, mentioned that collaboration, with Hanmi could help them produce such drugs in the field of some of the most debilitating diseases.