British drug delivery firm Vectura has inked a deal with Boehringer Ingelheim to develop a dry powder inhaler (DPI) for a range of proprietary respiratory products of the German company, intensifying competition in a burgeoning asthma market.
By delivering its drugs for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) using Vectura's DPI, Boehringer Ingelheim hopes to boost its presence in the market for these treatments, which is valued globally in excess of €13bn today and is forecast to grow to over €26bn by 2010.
Vectura believes DPIs are increasingly the first choice for patients with these diseases and will be used to deliver the majority of such drugs sold in the market by 2010.
Its DPI device, Gyrohaler, is eying the market occupied by the latest generation of multi-dose inhalers, such as the Diskus device from GlaxoSmithKline, which are capable of storing and delivering a month's supply of doses.
"Our device is better than other DPIs in that it is multi-dose, as opposed to single unit dose, it has foil-sealed blisters protecting the drug from moisture, oxygen and light, not a reservoir device, it is designed to be inexpensively manufactured at production volumes and it is easy for the patient to use," Vectura's chief executive Chris Blackwell told In-PharmaTechnologist.com.
"I can't comment on the costs of production but we are not expecting any significant manufacturing challenges."
Gyrohaler been designed to be compact, with a small number of moulded parts in order to allow short device development times and low manufacturing costs, the company said.
Under the terms of the agreement, Vectura will work with Boehringer Ingelheim on the development of the inhaler until the end of 2007, after which Boehringer Ingelheim will be responsible for any further development, manufacturing, clinical trial use with its proprietary compounds and the commercialisation of these products.
Vectura will receive an initial payment of €5 million and a €10 million equity investment, and an additional payment and a further equity investment will be made to Vectura subject to pre-agreed pre-clinical milestones.
Additional milestones will be payable to Vectura for each Boehringer Ingelheim product developed using the device and royalties will be charged on all global sales of Boehringer Ingelheim products delivered with Gyrohaler.
The agreement is the second inhaler deal signed by Vectura in as many weeks after the Chippenham-based firm stroke a deal with an unnamed "leading international pharmaceutical company" for the clinical development, manufacture and European marketing of its combination asthma therapy called VR315 using Gyrohaler.
Vectura's partner intends to provide, if required, US-compliant manufacturing facilities for the blister filling and assembly of VR315 for non-European territories.
In this deal Vectura will receive up to €22.5m in milestones and development funding and will earn royalties on all VR315 sales and a margin on the commercial manufacture and supply of GyroHaler.
Last year Vectura clinched the biggest deal in the history of the UK biotech industry, worth up to up to €290m, when, along with its Cambridge partner Arakis, licensed its inhaler treatment for COPD to Swiss drugmaker Novartis.