January was a tumultuous month for MannKind Corporation, with inhaled insulin partner Sanofi pulling-out from its Afrezza commercialisation deal and causing share prices to plummet.
The firm also announced it had entered into a collaboration and license agreement with Seattle, Washington-based Receptor Life Science which intends to use the same drug delivery platform Afrezza is based on – Technosphere – across multiple inhaled therapeutic candidates.
But with no website or public records, questions have been asked about this “newly formed entity” across investor forums.
Yesterday, in an investor call, MannKind’s new CEO Matthew Pfeffer quashed these rumours, saying Receptor is “a wholly independent entity unaffiliated with MannKind” and after being asked about the secrecy surrounding the deal, added further colour.
“We negotiated the agreement with Receptor because it is attractive from the standpoint of Receptor’s pedigree, their management team and the business opportunity,” he said. “Our reverse merger with Receptor is not under consideration at this time.”
He added MannKind is not at liberty to disclose proprietary information about Receptor, but said the firm has been operating for a while and recently changed its name. He also dispelled rumours Receptor was owned by MannKind founder Al Mann.
“We can’t talk about like who the management team is and who’s behind the company and how they’re funded… [they have] good reasons why they don’t want to make those things public at this point and we have to respect that.”
Into the Technosphere
Under terms of the deal potentially worth $100m, MannKind retains all rights for its Technosphere platform except for Receptor’s specific proprietary compounds. Receptor will also be responsible for manufacturing and commercialisation activities.
Technosphere delivers API through inhalation, using the excipient fumaryl diketopiperazine (FDKP) which is highly soluble at pH 6.0, the prevailing physiological pH in the lungs.
The news also supports MannKind’s vision going forward after Sanofi’s exit, explained by Pfeffer at last month’s JP Morgan Conference. He said licensing deals would yield short-term cash and long-term growth opportunities for the firm.
Rumour mill shutdown
Since the Sanofi fallout, MannKind has fallen foul to a number of other rumours, including reports it is looking to offload its Danbury, Massachusetts manufacturing facility.
“The company does not respond to rumors, particularly those around potential buyouts, executive departures, whether the Danbury facility is still in operation and so on.”
He continued: “The problem is that such rumors are so frequent that once we respond to one, people are more likely to believe the next rumor if you don’t respond to that one also and so on.”
And explaining why MannKind has not responded to questions from in-Pharmatechnologist since the Sanofi break-up, he said “other than material disclosures, MannKind will not comment on questions post about rumors or other speculations.”