Anthera Acquires Sollpura from Eli Lilly

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Anthera Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ANTH) is a biopharmaceutical company focussed on developing and commercializing therapeutics for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. The company’s primary candidate, blisibimod, was acquired from Amgen, Inc. (AMGN).

Anthera is currently developing blisibimod for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus in a phase III program. The company is running the first of two pivotal studies and has submitted the final protocol to the FDA for the second study. On the basis of results from both these studies Anthera is expected to file for blisibimod in the U.S. for the treatment for patients suffering from active lupus. Blisibimod is also being developed for the treatment of multiple myeloma in a preclinical study.

Earlier in the week, the company announced that it has acquired another mid-stage development candidate, Sollpura, from Eli Lilly and Company (LLY). The candidate is being developed for the treatment of patients suffering from low digestive enzyme levels or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), due to cystic fibrosis or other potential diseases.

Anthera mentioned in its press release that it also intends to form a subsidiary, Alkira Therapeutics, to sublicense all rights, obligations and intellectual property for the development and commercialization of Sollpura. Anthera is expected to provide adequate funding to Alkira so that it can advance Sollpura into phase III development.

The phase III pivotal registration study, which was agreed by the FDA last year, is expected to start in mid 2015. As per the terms of the agreement, Alkira will be responsible for making all contingent milestone payments upon product approval and on certain annual sales achievements. Alkira will also pay royalties on any product sales after achieving certain sales thresholds of cumulative net sales of Sollpura.

The company currently has no approved products. Hence, the successful development of these candidates is crucial for the company.

Anthera currently carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Some other stocks worth considering include Actelion Ltd. (ALIOF) carrying a similar bullish rank.

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