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Lilly reacquires migraine medicine after encouraging results

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More than two years after selling rights to an experimental migraine treatment to an outside firm, Eli Lilly and Co. announced Monday it is buying the drug back.

Positive results from a Phase 2 trial in patients convinced the Indianapolis-based drugmaker to reacquire the medicine, which goes by the name LY2951742. Lilly will likely conduct a Phase 3 trial, the last stage of testing before it can submit the drug for market approval.

The drug was licensed from Lilly in 2011 by Massachusetts-based Arteaus Therapeutics, a company formed at the same time by two venture capital firms, OrbiMed and Atlas Venture.

Lilly did not disclose the financial terms of its deal with Arteaus. However, Lilly will record a fourth-quarter charge of $57.1 million to reflect the reacquisition costs and Lilly’s assumption of ongoing development expenses of the drug.

The drug, which is known as a calcitonin gene-related peptide, or CGRP, antibody, was discovered by Lilly scientists. It is one of nine experimental drugs Lilly has licensed to outside firms as a way to share the risk of research and development costs. Lilly calls this risk-sharing arrangement with venture capital firms its Capital Funds Portfolio.

The migraine medicine is the first one Lilly has reacquired from a participating venture-backed drug company.

“Through this strategy, independent investment firms and portfolio companies provide a unique way to access, share risks, and expand funding to develop molecules, such as the CGRP antibody, to help speed the delivery of timely valued medicines to patients who are waiting,” said Jan M. Lundberg, president of Lilly Research Laboratories, the R&D arm of Lilly.

Lundberg helped discover the characteristics of CGRP 30 years ago as a researcher in Sweden, according to Reuters.

Lilly--along with New Jersey-based Merck & Co. Inc., Germany-based Beohringer Ingelheim GmbH and other drugmakers--has been trying to develop CGRP-antibodies because no other drugs are effective over the long term at alleviating migraine headaches.

The number of Americans that suffer from migraines each year is estimated to be at least 9 million and as high as 30 million. Without an effective drug, patients seek relief from a bevy of other treatments, including acupuncture, chiropractic therapy and even Botox.

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