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OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma exits sleep-drug partnership

May 1, 2019

STAMFORD — Purdue Pharma announced it will leave a partnership with Japanese pharmaceutical firm Eisai that focused on developing a drug to treat sleep-wake disorders, including insomnia.

In move that comes nearly two months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration accepted a new drug application for the Lemborexant treatment, Eisai will make an unspecified one-time payment to buy out Purdue’s rights to the project. Purdue will no longer participate or fund the development and commercialization of Lemborexant, and Eisai will take full responsibility for those activities worldwide.

Stamford-based Purdue and Eisai had shared the costs tied to Lemborexant’s global clinical studies and commercialization, according to their original agreement, which was established in August 2015.

“As a result of the ongoing diversification of our research product portfolio, Purdue’s business priorities have shifted since this collaboration was initiated,” Purdue CEO and President Craig Landau said in a statement. “This mutual decision enables us to dedicate our resources to our oncology, non-opioid pain, and other (central nervous system) programs. Purdue appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with Eisai, and we wish them continued success with the advancement of Lemborexant.”

Purdue had pursued the development of Lemborexant, as it grapples with more than 1,000 lawsuits tied to the allegedly fraudulent marketing of OxyContin, its top-selling drug. Last week, Connecticut filed an expanded lawsuit against the company.

Meanwhile, Purdue is moving forward with the development of a number of other non-opioid drugs.

A new Purdue subsidiary gained FDA approval in March for a drug called Adhansia XR, to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Also in March, Purdue announced an FDA fast-track designation for a “nalmefene hydrochloride” injection to treat known or suspected opioid overdoses.

In the past three months, another new Purdue subsidiary has secured the FDA’s “orphan drug designation” for expedited reviews of drugs to, respectively, treat rare bile-duct cancer and an extremely rare type of leukemia. The company said it will not profit from the latter medication.

Last January, Purdue announced it will partner with eyecare-pharmaceutical firm Ocular Therapeutix on research aiming to develop non-opioid pain treatments.

In another non-opioid initiative, Purdue announced last October an “exclusive option” to acquire Plymouth, Minn.-based SpineThera, which is developing an injectable steroid treatment for back pain.

pschott@stamfordadvocate.com; 203-964-2236; twitter: @paulschott

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