GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has signed an agreement to divest rights to tapinarof, one of its investigational drugs, to Dermavant Sciences, a division of Roivant Sciences, following a deal valued at £250m.

Under the agreement, GSK will receive an upfront payment of £150m followed by £100m potential milestone-based payments in the future.

Tapinarof is an aryl hydrocarbon receptor modulating agent (TAMA) being developed to treat psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.

Through the acquisition, Dermavant will gain global rights to the pre-clinical topical back-up programme of tapinarof and will be responsible to carry out all development milestones owed to third parties.

Upon completion of the deal, Dermavant will receive all global rights to the investigational theraputic, with the exception of China.

GSK research and development (R&D) pipeline senior vice-president John Lepore said: “We have taken a strategic decision to divest or partner medicines in our R&D portfolio that are a better fit for other companies allowing us to concentrate our resources on other promising assets.

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By GlobalData
“Tapinarof has the potential to be a first-in-class therapy that postpones or potentially eliminates the need for systemic treatment in the most common dermatological conditions.”

“Tapinarof has the potential to be a first-in-class therapy and a convenient, once-daily topical agent that postpones or potentially eliminates the need for systemic treatment in two of the most common dermatological conditions, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.”

To date, tapinarof has been assessed as a topical therapy in more than 800 patients across various phase I and phase II clinical trials.

The deal will also include agreements between GSK, Roivant and Dermavant for supply of the tapinarof for the phase III programme, as well as commercial purposes.

Dermavant Sciences executive chair Jackie Fouse said: “Tapinarof is an investigational therapy that has the potential to provide an important treatment option for psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, conditions affecting millions of patients around the world.

“This will be the cornerstone of Dermavant’s pipeline, and we are grateful for the opportunity to advance its development.”

The transaction is subject to necessary approvals, anti-trust and regulatory clearances. It is expected to be closed during the second half of this year.