Cipher Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CPHR; TSX:CPH) has licensed the Canadian distribution rights to CF101, a novel chemical entity being developed by Israeli Can-Fite Biopharma (NYSE MKT: CANF) (TASE: CFBI) for moderate to severe plaque psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Under the terms of the agreement, Can-Fite will receive an upfront payment of CDN$1.65 million and is eligible for milestone payments of up to CDN$2 million and royalties from product sales in Canada. The agreement provides that Can-Fite will deliver finished product to Cipher.
Approximately 500, 000 in Canada people receive treatment for psoriasis. In moderate to severe cases, the most common treatment options are systemic biologic drugs, which are delivered by injection or intravenous (IV) infusion and have well-known shortcomings, including increased risk of infection. CF101 is an oral small molecule drug formulated in a tablet and has an excellent human safety profile, demonstrated in more than 1, 000 patients.
Pnina Fishman, CEO of Can-Fite said: “We believe that Cipher’s commitment to us at this stage, ahead of the anticipated publication of our Phase II/III psoriasis trial results, is a strong validation of our development efforts to date.”
“This transaction deepens our Canadian portfolio with a high-potential, novel treatment option for two important indications, ” said Cipher president and CEO Shawn O’Brien, “As an orally bioavailable drug, we believe CF101 has the potential to offer a much-needed treatment alternative to patients living with psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. We see CF101 as being complementary to our Beteflam Patch, giving us two products targeting one of the most common autoimmune diseases in Canada.”
Can-Fite recently completed a Phase II/III double-blind, placebo-controlled study, which was designed to test the efficacy of CF101 in patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. Top-line results from the trial will be published by Can-Fite at the end of March 2015. Interim results from this Phase II/III trial and final results from the prior Phase II trial in psoriasis were both positive showing that CF101 effectively improved disease symptoms.
Can-Fite says that the psoriasis therapeutic market is dominated by biological drugs that are primarily administered via intravenous injection and have potential side effects. According to Global Data, the psoriasis treatment market was worth $3.6 billion in 2010 and is forecast to grow to $6.7 billion by 2018. According to independent business information provider visiongain, the global rheumatoid arthritis drug market is expected to generate revenues of $38.5 billion in 2017.