Spinifex to be acquired by Novartis

Australian pain drug innovation company sold to Novartis for US$200m plus milestone payments

02-Jul-2015 - Australia

Spinifex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and its Australian subsidiary Spinifex Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd, a company focused on the development of new drugs for the treatment of chronic pain, announced agreement to the sale of Spinifex to Novartis International AG, for an upfront cash consideration of US$200 million plus significant further development and regulatory milestone payments.

The technology around which Spinifex is founded was developed by Prof. Maree Smith and Dr Bruce Wyse at The University of Queensland, where they identified AT2 receptor antagonists as inhibitors of neuropathic pain in preclinical models. Recognising the commercial potential of an improved treatment for chronic pain, particularly neuropathic pain, in 2005 the technology was spun-out of The University of Queensland into Spinifex Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd via a Series A investment round from UniSeed, UniQuest and GBS Venture Partners.

In 2008, as the company prepared for human clinical trials under an IND with the US Food & Drug Administration, the existing Australian venture syndicate reinvested and was further strengthened by the addition of Brandon Capital Partners a Series B financing.

In 2014 following positive results from the company’s Phase 2 trial in Post Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN: a painful condition that can develop following herpes zoster or “shingles”) which have been published in The Lancet, the company went on to raise a Series C round to fund the company’s further clinical development and relocate substantial operations to the US. The existing investor syndicate continued to participate and was enhanced by the addition of US VCs Novo Ventures and Canaan Partners.

As a result of the acquisition announced Novartis will continue the development of the company’s programs and is planning to undertake Phase 2b clinical trials in patients with PHN and Painful Diabetic Neuropathy, and intends to build on these two key indications to pursue a broad peripheral neuropathic pain.

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