Concert in tune with Celgene for $300 million deal
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


LEXINGTON, Mass.—Concert Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced May 6 that it had entered into a strategic collaboration with Summit, N.J.-based Celgene Corp. that is focused on the development of deuterium-modified compounds targeting cancer and inflammation. The collaboration will initially focus on one program, but has the potential to encompass multiple targets, the companies say.  
Under the terms of the agreement, Concert will receive an unspecified upfront payment from Celgene and, should Celgene exercise its program options, Concert will be eligible to receive as much as $300 million in development, regulatory, and sales milestone payments. Moreover, if Celgene decides to go beyond the initial program, each of the other potential programs holds the same potential for another $300 million. In addition, Concert would receive tiered royalties on any product sales for each of the programs advanced by Celgene.  
"Celgene's deep experience developing clinically meaningful therapies, and their global commitment to patients across multiple therapeutic areas, make them an ideal partner," said Dr. Roger Tung, president and CEO of Concert Pharmaceuticals.  
The agreement marks Concert's third high-profile deal in the past year, with Avanir Pharmaceuticals in 2012 and Jazz Pharmaceuticals in early 2013 having preceded Celgene. In partnering with Concert, what all three are looking for, ideally, with the addition of deuterium to their drugs is better efficacy, lower side-effect profiles and/or fewer drug-drug interactions.  
What Concert is looking for, in addition to validation and a better financial footing, is to help advance its own in-house program for CTP-499, designed to address diabetic kidney disease, through at least mid-stage trials. Tung has said that partnerships like these are part of a strategy to move that homegrown program forward.  
Much like the financial details with Celgene, there is little specificity to be found around the compound or targets. But, with cancer and inflammation the general interest there, and Concert's other recent big deals, the company's deuterium-stabilizing technology seems to have wide application. The potentially $120 million pact with Jazz recently was for an improved version of the narcolepsy drug Xyrem and Avanir will spend as much as $200 million to put Concert's technology to work enhancing its drug for pseudobulbar, a condition that causes involuntary outbursts of crying or laughing.  
Michael Yee, an analyst with RBC Capital, speculated in a recent research note that Concert and Celegene may have their eyes on making a deuterium-modified version of Revlimid (lenalidomide), Celgene's blockbuster drug for treating myeloma.

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