[Corrected 2/20/15, 11:18 a.m. and updated 1/24/17, 12:54 p.m. See below.] Women’s health-focused biopharmaceutical researcher Evestra is taking a $5 million loan from existing partner Gedeon Richter so that it can further develop a product line that includes contraceptives and other gynecological treatments.
The San Antonio, TX, company will use the money to try to bring its treatments for issues such as endometriosis and fibroids to clinical trials, according to president and CEO Ze’ev Shaked. Evestra also is developing two contraceptive products, including a vaginal ring that would be a bioequivalent to NuvaRing that is in a pivotal study, EVE112, Shaked said. [An earlier version of this paragraph mistakenly described how Evestra will use the $5 million loan. The funding is for the product pipeline, excluding the NuvaRing bioequivalent. The headline has been adjusted to reflect this.]
“We have our own patent application, we have our own technology. We are delivering in a different way,” Shaked said in a telephone interview. “That’s one of the things that attracted us to Richter, because it provides them with a platform to develop a variety of vaginal ring products based on our own technology.”
Evestra has a second ring, EVE116, that it believes may be safer for obese women who are susceptible to deep-vein thrombosis, or blood-clotting than others, such as NuvaRing. Merck, NuvaRing’s maker, a year ago paid $100 million to settle a few thousand lawsuits that alleged the device can cause fatal blood clots, according to Bloomberg. [An earlier version of this paragraph mistakenly implied there was a single contraceptive ring, rather than two. We regret the error. Evestra does not list EVE116 on its website as of 1/24/2017. A second fertility product, EVE106, is listed.]
Evestra has had a collaboration agreement with Richter, which is based in Budapest, Hungary, for more than two years, Shaked said. In its 2013 annual report, Richter listed two Evestra products, EVE-112 and EVE-116, as gynecology compounds it has in-licensed.
Richter, which had about 1.1 billion euros (about $1.5 billion) in sales in 2014, may gain rights for markets such as Europe and Latin America, while the North American market would remain available to Evestra, Shaked said.
The $5 million loan is an extension of the collaboration, Shaked said. Richter can decide after three years whether to demand the loan be repaid, with interest, or to convert it into an equity stake in Evestra, according to a statement. As part of the deal, Richter is taking a seat on Evestra’s board, Shaked said.
Evestra is also developing potential treatments for health issues such as endometriosis and fibroids.