Nexvet partners with Virbac for ex-U.S. sales of canine osteoarthritis drug

Little more than a month after launching a pivotal trial for its lead compound to treat osteoarthritis in dogs, Dublin-based Nexvet has nabbed a partner to help distribute it--Virbac, which signed a 10-year collaboration agreement to market the drug, called NV-01, outside of the U.S. and Canada.

NV-01, an anti-nerve factor monoclonal antibody, is currently being tested in more than 10 veterinary clinics in the U.S. and Europe. The drug, designed to combat the pain caused by osteoarthritis, came out of Nexvet's much-heralded PETization platform, which the company uses to churn out species-specific antibodies.

"We are impressed with the Nexvet platform technology, PETization, and its ability to rapidly create a unique and differentiated portfolio of biological products. NV-01 is unlike any other product on the market or in clinical development for chronic canine pain," said Christian Karst, an executive board member at Virbac.

Under the terms of the agreement, a joint steering committee will guide clinical development, regulatory strategies, and marketing activities for the product. The two companies will share the profits, and Virbac will award milestone payments to Nexvet when NV-01 is first approved overseas and when it is first commercialized in a European country. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"Virbac is an established leader in the companion animal health space with expertise in navigating the differentiated regulatory and commercial environments within European and other international markets, which together represent over 50 percent of the global market for companion animal health," said Mark Heffernan, CEO of Nexvet in the release.

The deal could very well bolster Virbac's market presence, as well. The company, which placed 8th in FierceAnimalHealth's ranking of the top 10 animal health companies of 2013, has been hampered in recent years by unfavorable currency exchange rates and a recall affecting its chewable heartworm drug, Iverhart Plus. In October it took a big step towards reversing its fortunes by picking up two products from Novartis ($NVS)--the parasiticides Sentinel Flavor Tabs and Sentinel Spectrum, both of which Eli Lilly ($LLY) agreed to cast off prior to acquiring Novartis Animal Health.

- access the press release here

Special Report: Top 10 animal health companies of 2013 - Virbac S.A.