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Open Orphan in German pharma deal

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Long-term: CEO Cathal Friel says the deal meets a key objective

Long-term: CEO Cathal Friel says the deal meets a key objective

Jason Clarke

Long-term: CEO Cathal Friel says the deal meets a key objective

Open Orphan, a Europe-focused pharma services company specialising in rare disease and so-called orphan drugs, has signed a contract with a German-based pharmaceutical group.

It is believed the firm in question may be the family-owned Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the pharmaceutical industry's top 20 companies.

In 2018, Boehringer had net sales of around €17.5bn, while it spent almost €3.2bn on research and development.

Open Orphan said the contract guaranteed "significant" annual income, with work under the deal to commence this month.

This contract will see Venn Life Sciences, part of Open Orphan, build upon its existing relationship with the German company, through a new three-year consultancy for pharmacokinetic (PK) analysis.

Pharmacokinetics is a branch of pharmacology that is dedicated to determining the fate of substances administered to the human body. PK models help pharmaceutical companies to decide upon dosage and potential adverse effects in new drugs under development.

Cathal Friel, CEO of Open Orphan, said: "This new contract is further evidence of Open Orphan delivering against one of its key objectives, transforming Venn by transitioning from ad-hoc short-term contracts to long-term contracts with high-quality customers - thereby delivering secured recurring revenues for the business."

The deal represents an extension of the relationship between the two firms, continuing the work currently undertaken by Venn of providing support in clinical trial data analysis, as well as earlier-stage projects.

Last month, Open Orphan and UK-based Hvivo agreed the terms of a merger, which will see the combined entity have a stake in what could be a $1bn-plus (€894m) flu vaccine under development.

The Hvivo transaction should see Open Orphan shareholders secure a stake in Imutex, a firm that is developing a promising universal flu vaccine, now in late-stage development.

The universal flu vaccine differs from others in that it does not need to be altered every year to take account of new strains of the virus.

The takeover deal values Hvivo at £13m (€15.2m) giving the combined business a valuation of about £28.5m.

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