Sunovion Targets Respiratory Drug in $430M Deal for Elevation Pharma

Xconomy San Diego — 

[Updated throughout 8/30/12 2:00 pm.] Sticking with a lean business model has paid off big for San Diego’s Elevation Pharmaceuticals, which has agreed to a buyout offer from Marlborough, MA-based Sunovion Pharmaceuticals that could eventually be worth as much as $430 million.

With the deal, Sunovion (a subsidiary of the Japanese drug maker Dainippon Sumitomo) has secured EP-101, an inhaled medication to ease the breathing of patients with respiratory disease. The  drug is a reformulated and inhalable solution of a generic drug already approved by the FDA—a long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA) bronchodilator. Elevation combined the drug with its eFlow Nebulizer System, a proprietary, hand-held device used to deliver an easy-to-inhale mist.

Elevation was advancing the drug-and-device together, and recently completed a mid-stage trial for treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Elevation’s nebulizer represents a key part of  the value of the deal for Sunovion (previously known as Sepracor), which can combine the device with other respiratory drugs already in its portfolio.

Elevation was founded in 2008, and has raised a total of $44 million to develop new aerosol therapies with a team of just 11 employees. The principal founder, CEO Bill Gerhart, was joined by chief medical officer Ahmet Tutuncu and San Diego serial entrepreneur Cam Garner, who served as chairman.

In a telephone interview this afternoon, Gerhart said Sunovion’s offer represents his best … Next Page »

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