Takeda has plucked a late-stage vaccine from the pipeline and handed it to a spinout company — once again turning to some colleagues at Frazier Healthcare Partners to make the deal work.
The pharma giant is spinning out its norovirus vaccine TAK-214 to a startup called HilleVax for the last stage of what will likely be a considerable R&D journey. The world was treated to a record setting late-stage program for Covid-19 vaccines, but regular development in the field typically take years to see out.
Now dubbed HIL-214, the vaccine has been put through its Phase IIb study, with promising enough results to warrant a chaperone for its own late-stage drive.
The deal comes a little over 2 years after Takeda and Frazier got together to launch Phathom, handing off an acid fighting drug called Vonoprazan. Coming right on the heels of the Shire buyout, Takeda was going through the process of prioritizing what it needed to keep, what it could sell and what required a spinout to carry on.
Now, that process is still in place as Takeda R&D chief Andy Plump continues his strategy of carrying on with programs in the most efficient manner possible.
In an early 2020 interview with Endpoints News’ Amber Tong, Frazier’s Patrick Heron spelled out the economics of this kind of deal, and why Takeda favors the gambit from time to time.
So we’ve probably put together around 25 companies over the past 8 years. As you’ve indicated, a lot of those companies had come from basically spinning off assets and putting them into the portfolio like Phathom and like in Arcutis. And I would say that the pharma companies had become more receptive to that when they see substantial value accrual to them. And it’s public now, Takeda owns probably about $200 million worth of stock in Phathom, and so they are basically deriving a lot of economic value from the partnership, and what they’re also focused on is the quality of teams we can put around their asset such that the program will reach the clinic and benefit patients. One of the benefits we have of doing this strategy for the past 15 years is that we can demonstrate that we got multiple products approved and have been become broadly available in the marketplace and again had a real impact on true unmet need, diseases.
This deal leaves Takeda focused on its high-priority dengue vaccine, a pandemic effort and a Zika vaccine partnered with the US government.
There are a variety of vaccines in the clinic for norovirus — including one from Vaxart — which triggers millions of cases of acute gastroenteritis in the US every year with symptoms that include severe abdominal cramping, diarrhea and vomiting.
“Takeda and Frazier have a history of successfully partnering together, and we are confident in HilleVax’s capabilities to progress HIL-214, the most advanced norovirus vaccine candidate in development with the potential to address the huge global burden of norovirus-associated acute gastroenteritis,” said Rajeev Venkayya, president of Takeda’s global vaccine business unit.