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AstraZeneca PLC (AZN) Bets $815 Million on FibroGen, Inc.'s Anemia Drug


7/31/2013 6:45:26 AM

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AstraZeneca and FibroGen Collaborate to Develop and Commercialize FG-4592, a Treatment for Anemia in Chronic Kidney Disease and End-Stage Renal Disease

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AstraZeneca and FibroGen today announced that they have entered into a strategic collaboration to develop and commercialize FG-4592, a first-in-class oral compound in late stage development for the treatment of anemia associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

This broad collaboration focuses on the US, China and all major markets excluding Japan, Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Middle East and South Africa, which are covered by an existing agreement between FibroGen and Astellas Pharma Inc. The AstraZeneca-FibroGen joint effort will be focused on the development of FG-4592 to treat anemia in CKD and ESRD, and may be extended to other anemia indications.

AstraZeneca will pay FibroGen committed upfront and subsequent non-contingent payments totaling $350 million, as well as potential future development related milestone payments of up to $465 million, and potential future sales related milestone payments in addition to tiered royalty payments on future sales on FG-4592 in the low 20 percent range. Additional development milestones will be payable for any subsequent indications which the companies choose to pursue. AstraZeneca will be responsible for the US commercialization of FG-4592, with FibroGen undertaking specified promotional activities in the ESRD segment in this market. The companies will also co-commercialize FG-4592 in China where FibroGen will be responsible for clinical trials, regulatory matters, manufacturing and medical affairs, and AstraZeneca will oversee promotional activities and commercial distribution.

FG-4592 is a small molecule inhibitor of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), a protein that responds to oxygen changes in the cellular environment and meets the body’s demands for oxygen by inducing erythropoiesis, the process by which red blood cells are produced. FG-4592 has the potential to address the considerable unmet medical need for an effective treatment for anemia that offers the convenience of oral administration and an improved safety profile as compared to current standards of care. At present, treatment options involve a combination of injectable erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) and iron supplements. FG-4592 works through the body’s natural oxygen-sensing and response system to help produce red blood cells. This can be compared to the body’s natural response to conditions at high altitude, where oxygen levels are low, which is to produce more red blood cells.

In Phase II clinical studies, FG-4592 met its primary objective of demonstrating anemia correction in treatment-naïve CKD patients not on dialysis as well as maintenance of hemoglobin levels and anemia correction in patients on dialysis. FG-4592 has demonstrated this efficacy combined with an acceptable safety profile in clinical trials, and has been shown to achieve anemia correction in the absence of intravenous iron supplementation.

The companies plan to undertake an extensive FG-4592 Phase III development program for the US, and to initiate Phase III trials in China, with anticipated regulatory filings in China in 2015 and in the US in 2017.

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca, said: “Our collaboration with FibroGen on FG-4592 is an important addition to AstraZeneca’s growing late-stage portfolio in cardiovascular and metabolic disease, one of our core therapy areas. We know from our research into complications of renal disease that anemia continues to be a challenge for patients with chronic kidney disease, due in part to the inconvenience and complexity of existing injectable and intravenous therapies and the safety concerns associated with them. The science behind this compound is compelling. Through our collaboration with FibroGen we aim to offer a first-in-class, convenient treatment option for doctors and patients.”

Thomas B. Neff, Chief Executive Officer, FibroGen, said: “FG-4592 has the potential to offer anemia patients an oral therapy that provides coordinated erythropoiesis, that increases natural erythropoietin within the normal physiological range, and that is effective without intravenous iron supplementation and without an increased risk for hypertension. We are especially pleased that AstraZeneca will share our commitment to making China the first-to-launch country for FG-4592 and join our effort to bring important innovation in anemia therapy to CKD and ESRD patients in the US and other countries. This agreement secures proper development and commercialization resources for FG-4592, and ensures US clinical trial efforts are fully funded.”

About chronic kidney disease and anemia

Diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions can cause significant damage to the kidneys. If left untreated, those can result in chronic kidney disease and progress to kidney failure. Such deterioration can lead to patients needing a kidney transplant or being placed on dialysis to remove excess fluid and toxins that build up in the body. The progression of CKD also increases the prevalence of anemia, a condition associated with having fewer of the red blood cells that carry oxygen through the body, and/or lower levels of hemoglobin, the protein that enables red blood cells to carry oxygen. As hemoglobin falls, the lower oxygen-carrying capacity of an anemic patients’ blood results in various symptoms including fatigue, loss of energy, breathlessness, and angina. Anemia in CKD patients has been associated with increased hospitalization rates, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life.

CKD is a worldwide critical healthcare problem that affects millions of people and drives significant healthcare cost. In the US, prevalence of CKD has increased dramatically in the past 20 years, from 10 percent of the adult population (or approximately 20 million US adults) as stated in the National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey (NHANES) 1988-1994, to 15 percent (or approximately 30 million adults) in NHANES 2003-2006. In 2009, total Medicare costs for CKD patients were $34 billion. China has an estimated 125 million CKD patients, or 5 times the number of CKD patients in the US [Lancet April 2012].

About FG-4592

FG-4592 is an orally administered small molecule inhibitor of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) prolyl hydroxylase activity, in development for the treatment of anemia in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). HIF is a protein transcription factor that induces the natural physiological response to conditions of low oxygen, “turning on” erythropoiesis (the process by which red blood cells are produced) and other protective pathways. FG-4592 has been shown to correct anemia and maintain hemoglobin levels without the need for supplementation with intravenous iron in CKD patients not yet receiving dialysis and in end-stage renal disease patients receiving dialysis. An Independent Data Monitoring Committee has found no signals or trends to date to suggest that treatment with FG-4592 is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events, thrombosis, or increases in blood pressure requiring initiation or intensification of antihypertensive medications.

Under a licensing agreement between FibroGen, Inc. and Astellas Pharma Inc., Astellas is developing FG-4592 for the treatment of anemia in CKD and ESRD patients in Europe, Japan, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Middle East, and South Africa.

About FibroGen

FibroGen, Inc., is a privately-held biotechnology company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of therapeutic agents for treatment of fibrosis, anemia, cancer, and other serious unmet medical needs. FibroGen’s FG-3019 monoclonal antibody is in early-stage clinical development for treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and other proliferative diseases, including pancreatic cancer and liver fibrosis, and FG-4592 is a small molecule inhibitor of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) prolyl hydroxylase currently in clinical development for the treatment of anemia. FibroGen is also currently pursuing the use of proprietary recombinant human type III collagens in synthetic corneas for treatment of corneal blindness. For more information please visit: www.fibrogen.com.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune, oncology, infection and neuroscience diseases. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information please visit: www.astrazeneca.com.

Contacts

AstraZeneca Media Contacts:

Ayesha Bharmal, +44 20 7604 8034 (UK/Global)

Esra Erkal-Paler, +44 20 7604 8030 (UK/Global)

Vanessa Rhodes, +44 20 7604 8037 (UK/Global)

Michele Meixell, +1 302-885-2677 (US)

Jacob Lund, +46 8 553 260 20 (Sweden)

or

AstraZeneca Investor Contacts:

Ed Seage, +1 302-373-1361

Colleen Proctor, +1 302-357-4882

or

FibroGen Contact:

Greg Mann, +1 415-978-1433

gmann@fibrogen.com

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