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United Therapeutics, MannKind to co-develop pulmonary hypertension drug

The healthcare sector this week witnessed yet another instance of two companies coming together to find therapeutic solution for a challenging medical condition. Biotechnology firm United Therapeutics (UTHR) has joined hands with California-based drug developer MannKind Corp. (MNKD) to co-develop a formulation of treprostinil, which is being evaluated for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Under the exclusive licensing and collaboration agreement, the companies will jointly commercialize the dry powder formulation globally. United Therapeutics will make an upfront payment of $45 million to MannKind, which will be followed up with payments of about $50 million on achieving certain milestones. The deal also includes the payment of royalty to MannKind on product sales.

The responsibilities of United Therapeutics will be to develop the drug, ensure regulatory compliance and commercial activities. The clinical supplies and initial commercial supplies of the product will be manufactured by MannKind.

Under the exclusive agreement, the companies will jointly commercialize the dry powder formulation globally

United Therapeutics has an option to include other ingredients used in the treatment of pulmonary hypertension on payment of $40 million to MannKind for each product. In addition, the companies signed a pact for carrying out research on other products that do not come under the licensing agreement.

Earlier this year, MannKind completed the phase-I of its clinical study on Treprostinil Technosphere, achieving the primary endpoint. Based on the positive outcome of the preliminary trial, the company launched phased-II of the study to evaluate its safety in pulmonary hypertension patients.

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“We are pleased with this new opportunity to demonstrate the value of our drug and device combination platform for delivering therapeutic products. We believe this collaboration will have the potential to significantly improve the lives of people living with pulmonary arterial hypertension,” said MannKind CEO Michael Castagna.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a condition characterized by high blood pressure in the arteries running between the lungs and heart of the patient. If left untreated, the disease could lead to heart failure.

Following the announcement, MannKind stock jumped about 40% in premarket trading, after closing the last trading session slightly lower. Shares of United Therapeutics, which dropped about 19% over the past eight months, closed the last trading session down 1%.

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