Array BioPharma strikes rights deal with Japanese firm worth up to $76M-plus

BOULDER – Array BioPharma Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRY) on Thursday announced that it has struck a deal with a Tokyo-based firm to develop and commercialize an Array-invented drug in Asia for use in pain treatment.

The deal includes $12 million upfront for Boulder-based Array and up to $64 million in milestone payments, plus double-digit royalties on sales.

The Japanese firm, Asahi Kasei Pharma Corp., will have rights to develop and commercialize ARRY-954 for pain, inflammation and other non-cancer indications. Array retains the rights to the drug in the treatment of cancer.

Array also retains all rights to the drug, which is in the preclinical stage, outside of Asia, though the company has announced no plans at this point to develop the drug further on its own.

Array shares, which have languished in recent months, had climbed nearly 5 percent to $3.05 by early afternoon trading Thursday on news of the deal.

ARRY-954 is a Tropomyosin receptor kinase A (TrkA) inhibitor that in preclinical studies has shown the ability to block pain responses in models representing various difficult-to-treat pain conditions such as osteoarthritis pain and chronic low back pain.

“We are excited to partner our TrkA for inflammation/pain program with Asahi Kasei Pharma,” Array CEO Ron Squarer said in a release. “Asahi Kasei Pharma is committed to advancing the program into clinical development, which will unlock its potential future value.”

Array’s proceeds from the deal can be used for any program at the company.

Array drug binimetinib is in Phase 3 clinical trials looking at its use in treating two different types of melanoma as well as ovarian cancer. The company is planning to file with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval to market the drug for use by NRAS melanoma patients in the first half of this year.

AstraZeneca, meanwhile, is conducting advanced trials on Array cancer drug selumetinib as well.