Four Years After Neuronex Buyout, Acorda Dumps Epilepsy Drug

Xconomy New York — 

Back in 2012, Acorda Therapeutics bought a Morrisville, NC, company called Neuronex as part of a plan to branch out beyond its flagship multiple sclerosis drug dalfampridine (Ampyra). Unfortunately, the drug, a nasal spray form of the old seizure control drug diazepam, never lived up to expectations, leading Acorda today to shelve it altogether.

Ardsley, NY-based Acorda (NASDAQ: ACOR) said that data from ongoing trials of its drug don’t demonstrate “bioequivalence” to what’s known as Diastat, a gel formulation of diazepam sold by Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: VRX) that’s used to control epileptic seizures. Acorda had to hit that bar to re-file for approval in the U.S.—the FDA had already rejected its drug in 2014—but will instead dump the drug and put its resources behind its other experimental treatments. The company has made Parkinson’s disease a clear focus through deals for Civitas Therapeutics in 2014 and recently BioTie Therapies, which has given it three drug prospects for the disease. CVT-301, the key asset in the Civitas deal, is in Phase 3 testing. Acorda aims to file for FDA approval of the drug, an inhalable version of the Parkinson’s drug levodopa, next year.

Acorda’s decision to abandon the diazepam nasal spray ensures that most of the potential payouts to Neuronex’s equity holders in the 2012 buyout will never materialize—some $105 million in downstream payments were tied to future sales milestones. Neuronex was formed in 2010 and licensed the diazepam spray from Korea’s SK Biopharmaceuticals.

Shares of Acorda closed on Thursday at $25.71 apiece, and slipped about 3 percent in pre-market trading on Friday morning.