Boston-based biotech startup Intarcia Therapeutics has entered into a licensing deal with French drug firm Servier to co-develop Intarcia’s matchstick-sized implantable diabetes pump capable of delivering controlled and continuous insulin therapy for up to a year.
Under the terms of the deal, Intarcia gives Servier exclusive rights to its investigational ITCA 650 device outside the United States and Japan. In return, Intarcia gets an upfront payment of $171 million, three early-stage regulatory milestones of $230 million, and an additional $650 million in sales milestones, pushing the total deal to more than $1 billion, according to an Intarcia statement. Both companies will invest in an additional manufacturing facility outside the U.S. and share costs in future R&D efforts globally.
Early last month, Intarcia touted the results of two phase 3 clinical trials that showed significant reduction in the HbA1C blood glucose marker among Type 2 diabetic patients who used the mini-pump in conjunction with standard oral anti-diabetic agents, as opposed to patients who used oral medications alone.
The sub-dermal device could be a game-changer in the fight against diabetes. Diabetics struggle with adhering to their prescribed insulin regimen, with many forgetting to take their pills and administer daily or weekly self-injections. The pump eliminates the peaks and valleys associated with injections by releasing the drug exenatide in micro quantities continuously to maintain optimal blood sugar levels.
If successful in its remaining phase 3 trials, Intarcia’s implantable device will be the “world’s first and only injection-free GLP-1 agonist given just once or twice yearly in a small, matchstick sized mini-pump placed sub-dermally,” the company said in the its statement. “A qualified physician, nurse or physician’s assistant can place ITCA 650 in a simple five-minute procedure in a doctor’s office.”
“When we talk to patients with Type 2 diabetes, there is a huge burden of the treatment for them on their daily lives,” Pascal Touchon, Servier’s VP of scientific cooperation and business development, said in a Wall Street Journal article. Touchon said that the deal underscores “how important the innovation will be for patients and how large the potential might be if the innovation reaches patients.”
Kurt Graves, CEO of Intarcia, told the WSJ that their agreement with Servier was a result of six-month talks, and that the French drug company beat out 11 other pharmaceutical firms partly because it was willing to let Intarcia retain full control of the U.S. market.
Medical device companies are teaming up with pharmaceutical companies in developing new products that help diabetics achieve compliance, maintain glycemic control, and avoid poor outcomes. In June, Medtronic Inc. announced an alliance with drug company Sanofi to create new drug-device combinations and offer care management services for Type 2 diabetes patients worldwide.
Image Credit: Intarcia Therapeutics, Inc.