2:22 PM
 | 
May 15, 2019
 |  BC Extra  |  Company News

Takeda veterans, Frazier launch Phathom with $90M to develop GI drug vonoprazan

Marking the partners' second company launch with a Takeda-discovered asset, Frazier Healthcare Partners and the Japanese pharma launched Phathom with rights to gastrointestinal drug vonoprazan. The start-up, which will focus on developing treatments for acid-related disorders, also raised $90 million in a private financing led by the firm and completed a $50 million loan facility with Silicon Valley Bank.

Phathom Pharmaceuticals LLC (Menlo Park, Calif.) gains development and exclusive commercialization rights to vonoprazan in the U.S., Europe and Canada. Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. (Tokyo:4502; NYSE:TAK) will receive an upfront payment and equity in Phathom, and is eligible for milestones and royalties. Phathom co-founder, board member and interim CEO David Socks, who is also venture partner at Frazier, declined to disclose financial terms.

Vonoprazan, a small molecule potassium-competitive acid blocker, is already approved in multiple countries in Asia and Latin America to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), including erosive esophagitis, gastric and duodenal ulcer, and NSAID and low dose aspirin associated ulcer. It is also approved for Helicobacter pylori infection.

Takeda is partnered with Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan) to co-promote the drug in Japan, where it is marketed as Takecab.

Socks said the company is planning to begin this year Phase III testing of vonoprazan to treat erosive esophagitis and H. pylori infection in the U.S. and Europe, but declined to disclose a timeline for regulatory submissions.

A Takeda spokesperson said it decided to out-license the ex-Asia rights to the drug so the pharma could focus on its pipeline of gastrointestinal treatments for inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, liver diseases and microbiome therapies.

In 2016, Takeda and Frazier partnered to launch Outpost Medicine LLC (Indianapolis, Ind.) with a $41 million series A to develop therapeutics in urology and gynecology. Outpost had exclusive, worldwide rights from Takeda to OP-233, but later discontinued the program.

Phathom's executive team and co-founders include Frazier's Tachi Yamada as chairman, Aditya Kohli as CBO and Roger Ulrich as CSO. Yamada had been a board member, CMO and CSO of Takeda.

Co-founder Azmi Nabulsi will be the company's COO and was deputy CMO and CSO and head of global development at Takeda.

Yamada, Socks and Kohli co-founded gene therapy company Passage Bio Inc. (Philadelphia, Pa.), which launched in February with a $115.5 million series A.

Also participating in Phathom's financing are Medicxi, RA Capital, Abingworth, Janus Henderson Investors, BVF Partners, Greenspring Associates, Richard King Mellon Foundation, Sahsen Ventures and undisclosed institutional investors.

Frazier's James Topper and Medicxi's Jon Edwards will join Phathom's board.

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