When Pfenex launched its IPO in 2014, it shifted its focus to biosimilar development. But several years on, two of its programmes PF582 and PF529 – versions of Roche’s Lucentis (ranibizumab) and Amgen’s Neulasta (pegfilgrastim), respectively – have been put on pause as the firm refocuses development efforts elsewhere in its portfolio.
Discussing fourth quarter results this week, CEO Evert Schimmelpennink told stakeholders Pfenex is seeking a partner to reinitiate the development programmes.
“The most prudent path for the development is a collaboration with a strategic development partner. As that business development process continues, we continue to seek partners with whom we would advance those programs.”
Pfenex initially partnered with Hospira to develop its biosimilar candidate to Lucentis to treat ‘wet’ age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but Pfizer – which acquired Hospira in 2016 – ended the collaboration in August 2016.
Meanwhile, Pfenex initially developed PF529 with Strides Arcolab, as part of a joint venture looking to commercialise six biosimilars for global markets. However, In February 2015, Pfenex notified Strides Arcolab that it was removing PF529 from the joint development agreement, with the intention to independently advance the candidate as a wholly owned products.
The development pause has, however, contributed to a decrease in R&D expenses, said newly appointed CFO Susan Knudson.
“Research and development expenses decreased to $7.2m in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to $10.7m in the same period in 2016,” she said on the call. “This decrease was primarily due to the company's decision to pause development activities on our PF582, Lucentis; and PF529, Neulasta, biosimilar programs.”
For the full year, Pfenex announced revenues of $28.8 million, compared to $60.2 million in 2016, with the year-on-year decrease primarily attributed to Pfizer’s termination of the development and license agreement with in the third quarter 2016.