San Diego Business Journal

Santarus Makes Licensing Deal to Promote Cholesterol Drug

Thursday, December 22, 2011

San Diego-based specialty biopharmaceutical company Santarus Inc. said Dec. 21 that it has agreed to pay $11 million upfront to Shore Therapeutics Inc. of Connecticut for the right to promote and sell the low-dose cholesterol drug Fenoglide.

Under terms of the exclusive licensing deal, publicly held Santarus would also have to pay potentially millions of dollars more in royalties and milestones if Fenoglide revenues hit certain thresholds, the company said. The drug, previously marketed by Shionogi Inc. of Florham Park, N.J., had U.S. sales of $8.7 million for the 12 months ended Oct. 31, according to pharmaceutical consultancy IMS Health Inc. in Danbury, Conn.

Santarus, which employs about 100 people at its Carmel Valley headquarters, will be adding Fenoglide to the two other drugs — Glumetza and Cycloset — that its 110 sales representatives sell to doctors specializing in type 2 diabetes, said Martha L. Hough, vice president of finance and investor relations.

“The overlay with the doctors we currently call on is very good,” Hough said. “There tends to be a high relationship between patients with type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.”

Fenoglide gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2007. The drug is part of a class of therapeutics known as fenofibrates that help lower cholesterol; Fenoglide happens to have the lowest dose of these drugs, which will give it a competitive edge, Hough said.

Santarus also announced Dec. 21 that it would post a profit in 2011 — its first since 2009. The company expects annual revenues of at least $115 million and net income of about $3 million. Looking ahead to 2012, it projected sales of $200 million with net income of $8 million to $11 million.

“We have very much a commercial business model,” Hough said, “not very typical in the San Diego life sciences market.”

The company on Dec. 20 submitted an application with the FDA for approval of its tablet drug Uceris, which targets a chronic digestive disease called ulcerative colitis. If the FDA accepts the application, the agency would have an approval decision by October, allowing for an early 2013 commercial launch, Hough said.

Santarus trades on Nasdaq under the symbol SNTS. Shares closed Dec. 21 at $3.10, down 3.4 percent from the previous day.

— Kelly Quigley