SK Biopharma and Arvelle Therapeutics in $530-Million Agreement

SK Biopharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical company based in Gyeonggi, South Korea, and Arvelle Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company based in Basel, Switzerland, have entered into an exclusive $530-million licensing agreement for Arvelle to develop and commercialize cenobamate in Europe. Cenobamate is a small-molecule investigational antiepileptic drug for the potential treatment of partial-onset seizures in adult patients. 

Under the agreement, SK Biopharmaceuticals will receive an upfront payment of $100 million and is eligible to receive up to $430 million upon achievement of certain regulatory and commercial milestones in addition to royalties on net sales generated in Europe. SK Biopharmaceuticals will have an option to obtain a significant equity stake in Arvelle and will also retain commercial rights for all non-European territories.

Cenobamate was discovered by SK Biopharmaceuticals and SK life science and is being investigated for the potential treatment of partial-onset seizures (also known as “focal seizures”) in adult patients. Cenobamate’s mechanism of action is not fully understood, but it is believed to work through two separate mechanisms: enhancing inhibitory currents through positive modulation of GABAA receptors and decreasing excitatory currents by inhibiting the persistent sodium current, according to information from SK Biopharmaceuticals. The US Food and Drug Administration accepted the filing of the new drug application for cenobamate for the potential treatment of partial-onset seizures in adults in February 2019.

Arvelle Therapeutics is a newly created company that received initial financing commitments from a global syndicate of investors that include NovaQuest, LSP, BRV Capital Management, Andera Partners and H.I.G. BioHealth Partners. Mark Altmeyer has been named President and CEO of Arvelle. Altmeyer brings more than 30 years of global biopharmaceutical experience to Arvelle, which included his previous role as President and CEO of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical. Most recently, he served as President and Chief Commercial Officer of Axovant Sciences and previously led the neuroscience business unit at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.

Source: SK Biopharmaceuticals

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