Boehringer Ingelheim has exercised an option to acquire Pharmaxis’ PXS4728A to develop it for the treatment of a type of liver disease called NASH, in a move potentially worth more than $A750 million (around $600 million). 

NASH is the progressive form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease - the most common liver disorder in Western industrialised nations - and is regarded a major cause of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. Surging rates of type II diabetes and obesity are expected to make NASH the most common cause of advanced liver conditions in coming decades, and the market is forecast to overshoot $3.5 billion by 2025, the firms note.

Pharmaxis has developed PXS4728A, a SSAO/VAP-1 inhibitor that books leucocyte adhesion and tissue infiltration in inflammatory processes, through to Phase I clinical studies, demonstrating oral bioavailability, long-lasting target inhibition and good tolerability and safety. 

Boehringer’s “clinical expertise will now be applied to the development of this drug which has the potential to make a real difference in the treatment of diseases with high unmet clinical need,” noted Gary Phillips, the Australian drugmaker's chief executive.

Under the deal, Pharmaxis will bank an upfront payment of 27.5 million euros, and also stands to receive 55 million euros tied to the start of Phase II and III clinical trials and up to 140 million euros on filing and regulatory/pricing approvals in the major pharmaceutical markets for the first indication. Further milestone payments are set for a second indication, as well as tiered sales-based royalties for any products making it to market.