Pernix and company ink $75M deal to put Orexigen out of its misery

Handshake business deal executives
Pernix-funded Nalpropion Pharmaceuticals has agreed to hand Orexigen $75 million for Contrave and other assets. (Pixabay)

It’s been a painful few years for Orexigen Therapeutics in the obesity arena, and the company is finally ready to bow out.

The San Diego-based drugmaker has inked a pact with Nalpropion Pharmaceuticals—a new company funded in part by specialty drugmaker Pernix Therapeutics—to sell worldwide rights to obesity med Contrave and other assets for $75 million in cash.

Of course, it’s not a done deal yet; on the contrary, it’s “subject to higher and better offers,” Orexigen said. It’ll field bids through June 21, with a target deal completion date in mid-July.

"We are encouraged that our work has culminated in this agreement,” Orexigen CEO Mike Narachi said in a statement, adding that, “through our interactions with the investor group and Pernix, we have seen that they recognize the value and the growth trajectory that Orexigen has created for Contrave and that we have a shared commitment to serve this patient population.”

RELATED: Troubled Orexigen looks for a buyer, but will anyone want Contrave?

Orexigen, in danger of failing to meet its debt requirements thanks to scant Contrave sales, said last October that it was scouting a buyer. The move to seek a seller followed a tumultuous few years for Contrave that saw the therapy follow in the footsteps of obesity rivals Qsymia from Vivus and Belviq from Arena as it failed to gain traction. A data foul-up from Orexigen’s exec team also soured the relationship between the company and marketing teammate Takeda, which ultimately nixed the pair’s partnership.

RELATED: Zogenix jettisons controversial pain med Zohydro for $100M-plus

Meanwhile, it’s not the first time Pernix has stepped in to take an asset off a troubled drugmaker’s hands. Back in 2015, it snapped in mired-in-controversy pain product Zohydro from maker Zogenix for $100 million upfront and up to $283.5 million in milestones. 

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