San Diego Business Journal

San Diego-based Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. has received a $1.4 million milestone payment for developing and commercializing a drug for New York-based Retrophin Inc.

The drug, RE-021, treats a rare disease that attacks the kidneys’ filtration system. Retrophin will now enter phase two clinical trials for the drug, and Ligand is entitled to further milestones and royalties based on the successful future development and commercialization of RE-021 under the agreement, signed in February 2012.

“We are impressed with Retrophin’s continued business successes and look forward to the initiation of the Phase 2 trial of RE-021,” said John Higgins, president and CEO of Ligand. “FSGS is an orphan disease with significant, unmet medical need and no currently approved therapies. We believe that RE-021 has a very compelling therapeutic profile and that under Retrophin’s stewardship, it has the potential to become an important treatment.”

Ligand acquired the kidney disease drug after a 2008 merger with Cranbury, NJ-based Pharmacopeia Inc., in a deal valued around $70 million. The publicly traded company reported 2012 revenue of $31.4 million.

— Meghana Keshavan