Sol-Gel seals $27M dermatology drug delivery deal with mystery partner

Israeli pharmaceutical company Sol-Gel Technologies says it nailed down a $27 million development and licensing deal with an as-yet unnamed U.S. pharmaceutical company regarding a "major" dermatology drug.

Sol-Gel, launched 15 years ago, declined to disclose the name of its partner, though coyly stated that it already has a $25 million deal with the same outfit. (Any guesses as to which lucky company it is?)

While Sol-Gel wouldn't name names, it did detail the agreement itself, which includes an upfront payment plus licensing fees and development payments when the partnership reaches certain milestones. Plus, the unnamed partner has also agreed to bankroll development costs and to pay Sol-Gel royalties for any net sales.

It's likely that whatever "Big Pharma" company Sol-Gel is dealing with sees a way to stand out in the marketplace with Sol-Gel's delivery tech. The company's controlled-release drug delivery system places the treatment into an inert, clear silica microcapsule shell, in a system designed to make a topical dermatology drug more effective and also work with fewer side effects because of the steady, gradual release of the treatment.

Big Pharma companies are facing the loss of patent protection for some of their big sellers and a variation using a new drug delivery mechanism can help them maintain market presence with a unique treatment variation. That makes drug delivery tech companies particularly seductive partners. Bend Research, for example, has signed licensing partnership deals in recent months with Eli Lilly ($LLY), Merck ($MRK) and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), giving them access to its spray-dried dispersion technology and other drug formulation know-how.

Sol-Gel says it is in the middle of a Phase II study in the U.S. for a topical rosacea therapy as well as developing a number of other dermatology products.

- here's the release