Vanda Buys US, Canadian Rights to J&J’s MS Drug Ponvory in $100M Deal

Mihael-Polymeropoulos/Courtesy Vanda

Pictured: Mihael Polymeropoulos, CEO, Vanda Pharmaceuticals/Company courtesy

Vanda Pharmaceuticals will be adding another drug to its arsenal in the form of Johnson & Johnson’s multiple sclerosis treatment Ponvory. In an announcement on Thursday, the biopharma said it had acquired the U.S. and Canadian rights to Ponvory from J&J’s Actelion Pharmaceuticals.

Under the deal, Vanda will pay $100 million upfront but J&J’s Janssen will continue to operate the business. Vanda and Janssen will transition regulatory supply responsibility for the drug to Vanda, according to the press release.

News of the announcement caused an initial spike in Vanda’s stock price Thursday morning.

“The acquisition of Ponvory is a significant milestone for Vanda, as it expands our commercial portfolio and gives us access to a versatile immune response modifier that can potentially have broad application in treating several autoimmune-based disorders,” Vanda CEO Mihael Polymeropoulos said in a statement.

No information was immediately available as to when the deal would close or if Vanda would choose to rebrand the drug. According to Vanda’s announcement, Ponvory’s mechanism of action also allows it to potentially act as a treatment for several inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, such as ulcerative colitis and psoriasis. But Vanda did not initially unveil if it will pursue label extensions. 

A Vanda spokesperson in an emailed response to BioSpace said the company will establish its own marketing campaign after the transition period and will consider other potential indications in autoimmune disorders.

“Ponvory belongs to a well-established class of Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Receptor 1 Modulators that have been transformative in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and are believed to have broad applications in other autoimmune disorders. Ponvory’s specificity and reversibility of effect are very appealing,” the spokesperson said.

The drug was approved by the FDA in 2021 to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Ponvory is a once-daily oral selective sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 modular. The drug secured approval based on a Phase III trial pitting Ponvory against Sanofi’s MS drug Aubagio. The trial showed Ponvory’s efficacy in reducing annual relapses by 30.5% when put up against Sanofi’s drug. Data also showed that Ponvory had prevented a worsening disability in most of the patients.

Vanda’s list of products currently includes Hetlioz, a treatment for sleep-wake disorder, and the schizophrenia treatment Fanapt. 

J&J has continued to be active on the deal front in 2023. In July, J&J acquired the licensing rights to radiotherapy from French biotech Nanobiotix for $30 million upfront and potentially $1.8 billion in milestones. 

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at tyler.patchen@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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