This broad collaboration focuses on the US, China and all major markets excluding Japan, Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Middle East and South Africa, which are covered by an existing agreement between FibroGen and Astellas Pharma Inc. The AstraZeneca-FibroGen joint effort will be focused on the development of FG-4592 to treat anaemia in CKD and ESRD, and may be extended to other anaemia indications.
FG-4592 is a small molecule inhibitor of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) prolyl hydroxylase. HIF is a protein that responds to oxygen changes in the cellular environment and meets the body’s demands for oxygen by inducing erythropoiesis, the process by which red blood cells are produced. FG-4592 has the potential to address the considerable unmet medical need for an effective treatment for anaemia that offers the convenience of oral administration and an improved safety profile as compared to current standards of care.
At present, treatment options involve a combination of injectable erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) and iron supplements. FG-4592 works through the body’s natural oxygen-sensing and response system to help produce red blood cells. This can be compared to the body’s natural response to conditions at high altitude, where oxygen levels are low, which is to produce more red blood cells.
In Phase II clinical studies, FG 4592 met its primary objective of demonstrating anaemia correction in treatment-naïve CKD patients not on dialysis as well as maintenance of haemoglobin levels and anaemia correction in patients on dialysis. FG 4592 has demonstrated this efficacy combined with an acceptable safety profile in clinical trials, and has been shown to achieve anaemia correction in the absence of intravenous iron supplementation.
The companies plan to undertake an extensive FG-4592 phase III development programme for the US, and to initiate phase III trials in China, with anticipated regulatory filings in China in 2015 and in the US in 2017.
AstraZeneca will pay FibroGen committed upfront and subsequent non-contingent payments totalling $350 million, as well as potential future development related milestone payments of up to $465 million, and potential future sales related milestone payments in addition to tiered royalty payments on future sales on FG-4592 in the low 20% range. Additional development milestones will be payable for any subsequent indications which the companies choose to pursue. AstraZeneca will be responsible for the US commercialisation of FG-4592, with FibroGen undertaking specified promotional activities in the ESRD segment in this market. The companies will also co-commercialise FG-4592 in China where FibroGen will be responsible for clinical trials, regulatory matters, manufacturing and medical affairs, and AstraZeneca will oversee promotional activities and commercial distribution.
Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca, said: “Our collaboration with FibroGen on FG-4592 is an important addition to AstraZeneca’s growing late-stage portfolio in cardiovascular and metabolic disease, one of our core therapy areas. We know from our research into complications of renal disease that anaemia continues to be a challenge for patients with chronic kidney disease, due in part to the inconvenience and complexity of existing injectable and intravenous therapies and the safety concerns associated with them. The science behind this compound is compelling. Through our collaboration with FibroGen we aim to offer a first-in-class, convenient treatment option for doctors and patients.”
Thomas B. Neff, Chief Executive Officer, FibroGen, said: “FG-4592 has the potential to offer anaemia patients an oral therapy that provides coordinated erythropoiesis, that increases natural erythropoietin within the normal physiological range, and that is effective without intravenous iron supplementation and without an increased risk for hypertension. We are especially pleased that AstraZeneca will share our commitment to making China the first-to-launch country for FG-4592 and join our effort to bring important innovation in anaemia therapy to CKD and ESRD patients in the US and other countries. This agreement secures proper development and commercialisation resources for FG-4592, and ensures US clinical trial efforts are fully funded.”