Massachusetts' Sunovion Swallows Up Cynapsus in $624 Million Deal, Gains Experimental Parkinson's Drug

Massachusetts-based Sunovion Swallows Up Cynapsus in $624 Million Deal, Gains Experimental Parkinson's Drug September 1, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. – Fresh off its filing for a new COPD drug, Massachusetts-based Sunovion Pharmaceuticals struck a $642 million deal to acquire Toronto-based Cynapsus Therapeutics and its Parkinson’s disease drug candidate.

Sunovion said the cash deal reflects the company’s global strategy to expand and diversify its portfolio in key therapeutic areas, including neurology. The acquisition will bring Cynapsus’ chief Parkinson’s disease product candidate, APL-130277, under that company’s umbrella. Nobuhiko Tamura, chairman and chief executive officer of Sunovion, said the company believes APL-130277 has the “potential to make a real difference for patients and their families.”

“Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects more than four million people around the world, and there is a significant need for new options to treat the OFF episodes associated with it,” Tamura said in a statement.

Anthony Giovinazzo, president and CEO of Cynapsus, said company leaders believe Sunovion is best suited to advance APL-130277 through regulatory hurdles and market the drug in the United States, given Sunovion’s “leadership in therapies for central nervous system disorders and commercial experience specific to neurology.”

APL-130277 is a novel formulation of apomorphine, a dopamine agonist, being developed as a fast-acting, easy-to-use, sublingual (under the tongue) thin film for the on-demand management of debilitating OFF episodes associated with Parkinson’s disease. Apomorphine, which is sold under various brand names such as Apokyn and Ixense, is the only molecule approved for acute, intermittent treatment of OFF episodes for advanced Parkinson’s patients. However, in the United States it is only approved as a subcutaneous injection. APL-130277 is currently in Phase III testing. If trial data proves successful, the company anticipates filing a New Drug Application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in early 2017.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that impacts movement in the body. IN addition to the more common tremors associated with the disease, Parkinson’s commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement, according to the Mayo Clinic. People diagnosed with Parkinson’s often deal with times classified as “on” and “off.” In off times, which APL-130277 addresses, patients experience periods of decreased mobility. The “on” time refers to when patients are responding to medication and symptoms are decreased.

Earlier this year, Cynapsus and The Michael J. Fox Foundation launched a plan to develop wearable technology and a big data approach in conjunction with its Phase III trial for APL-130277. When the partnership was struck in January, Giovinazzo said using wearable technology in clinical trials has the potential to “improve our understanding of how drugs and other treatments impact patients living with the debilitating symptoms of this disease."

The Michael J. Fox Foundation also has an ongoing partnership with Intel Corporation to develop platforms for the storage of big data. The Fox Foundation has become the major player in raising money for awareness and research for Parkinson’s. In 2015, it awarded almost $88 million in research grants. Earlier this week, it came to light that the Fox Foundation and Georgetown researches were engaged in a feud over the structure of a Phase II trial studying Novartis ’s leukemia drug, Tasigna, as a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease. A small Phase I trial at Georgetown University showed patients had “significantly meaningful clinical improvements.”

Sunovion’s acquisition of Cynapsus is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2016, the company said in a statement.

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