1:34 PM
Jul 14, 2017
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Back to Ipsen’s roots

Why Ipsen is revving up clinical-stage BD and adding a venture fund

After spending the last six years plugging revenue holes via licensing and M&A, Ipsen Group is once again on track to meet the 2020 financial targets it set at the beginning of the decade. But the late-stage deals came at the expense of filling the pipeline, while the research-driven strategy set in motion at that time has not borne fruit.

The company’s pipeline has a plethora of line extensions for marketed products, but just six new therapeutics and one imaging agent. The most advanced programs are in Phase II testing (see “Thinning on Top”).

“We have very early assets, and we have top-heavy late stage assets,” EVP of R&D and CSO Alexandre Lebeaut told BioCentury. “That means that the big gap, the big hole in the portfolio has to be filled.”

Just under a year after stepping into the post of CEO, David Meek has now set a course to quadruple the pharma’s goal for new product or line extension launches, and to seek out higher-risk, more innovative assets than Ipsen has in the past.

“We have very early assets, and we have top-heavy late stage assets. That means that the big gap, the big hole in the portfolio has to be filled.”

Alexandre Lebeaut, Ipsen

The company will do this in part by returning to its roots as a clinical stage asset aggregator, seeking compounds with at least some human data in cancer, neurology and endocrinology indications.

It also will partner with an undisclosed VC to establish an option fund that will invest in seed stage companies with differentiated assets in Ipsen’s therapeutic areas.

“To compete and achieve our vision of having innovation in specialty care, we are going to have to take those risks,” Meek told BioCentury.

Both the business development plan and the option fund could also take Ipsen beyond its current therapeutic areas into rare diseases.

The company also will reduce the scope of internal research, deprioritizing a peptide discovery program that wasn’t as productive as hoped. It will continue to develop its internal botulinum toxin platform, where the expectation is that safer and more efficacious molecules could address more indications than marketed toxin products.

Figure: Thinning on top

While Ipsen Group (Euronext:IPN; Pink:IPSEY) has a host of line extensions in development for marketed products such as Dysport botulinum neurotoxin type A and Onivyde irinotecan, the company has only six unapproved therapeutics and one diagnostic in the clinic across two therapeutic categories. The most advanced are in Phase II testing. (A) In Phase I/II testing; (B) In-licensed from 3B Pharmaceuticals GmbH; (C) Partner Canbex Therapeutics Ltd. is conducting a Phase IIa trial and Ipsen has an exclusive option to buy the company upon completion; SSTR2 = somatostatin receptor 2; NTSR1 = neurotensin receptor 1; KCNMB4 = Potassium calcium-activated channel subfamily M regulatory beta subunit 4; Source: BCIQ: BioCentury Online Intelligence, company press releases, company interviews

Best laid plans

Ipsen’s 10-year objectives set out in June 2011 called for more than doubling its revenues from €1.1 billion ($1.4 billion) in 2010, to €2-€2.5 billion by 2020 on the back of marketed and late-stage products.
The company named five products that it expected to drive growth. Two were marketed: neuroendocrine tumor product Somatuline Autogel lanreotide acetate...

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