Medincell, AbbVie link up in long-acting injectable development pact worth up to $1.9B

After proving the merits of its drug delivery platform last year with the approval of Teva’s long-acting schizophrenia drug Uzedy, France’s Medincell has hooked another big-name partner.

Medincell and AbbVie have struck up a co-development and licensing pact to create up to six long-acting injectables across “multiple therapeutic areas and indications,” Medincell said Tuesday.

Under the deal, Medincell is line to receive an upfront payment of $35 million, plus up to $1.9 billion in potential development and commercial milestones, as well as royalties on global sales.

Medincell will leverage its long-acting injectable technology platform to formulate new therapies and take them through the preclinical stage, at which point AbbVie will swoop in to finance and conduct clinical development of the candidates. Medincell will support the products with chemistry, manufacturing and controls work in the early stages, while AbbVie will ultimately be the one in charge of approval, production and commercialization.

Medincell worked for decades on its technology for slow-release injectable drugs before winning its first FDA approval with Teva’s Uzedy last May. Since then, Medincell has entered a “new period of growth,” the company’s CEO Christophe Douat said in a statement.

Uzedy, which can be administered at one- or two-month intervals, is a reformulation of the decades-old antipsychotic risperidone, which was originally developed by Johnson & Johnson.

While it’s not immediately clear what sort of drugs AbbVie and Medincell will develop together, AbbVie may soon have its own schizophrenia contender in the form of Cerevel Therapeutics’ emraclidine. AbbVie laid out $8.7 to acquire Cerevel in early December.

For its part, Medincell is awaiting two phase 3 readouts in the near future.

By the end of the first half of 2024, the company expects results from a study of postoperative pain treatment in partnership with the Canadian lab AIC, a Medincell spokesperson said over email.

And, in the second half of the year, Teva and Medincell are hoping to receive results on a second potential schizophrenia product, long-acting olanzapine, which is used to treat especially severe cases of the condition.

Medincell is further working with Teva on the development of Uzedy in a yet-undisclosed mental health indication. Plus, the company is working on projects leveraging its tech with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Unitaid, the spokesperson said.