Regeneron, Teva take aim at Lilly/Pfizer pain drug

Sept 20 (Reuters) - Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc and Israeli drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries on Tuesday said they would co-develop Regeneron’s experimental new type of pain drug and together market the medicine if it succeeds in trials and is approved.

The injectable drug, called fasinumab, blocks Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), a protein involved in transmission of pain signals. Its new mechanism of action could make it a non-addictive alternative to opioids, the drugmakers said in a joint release. It is being tested in late-stage trials for osteoarthritis pain and in mid-stage studies for chronic low back pain.

Rival U.S. drugmakers Eli Lilly and Co and Pfizer Inc plan by 2018 to seek approval for their similar medicine, tanezumab, which they are testing under a $1.8 billion deal reached in 2013.

Teva, a generic drugmaker that sells the branded multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, will pay Regeneron $250 million upfront and share equally in fasinumab’s ongoing research costs of about $1 billion.

U.S.-based Regeneron, best known for its blockbuster Eylea treatment for macular degeneration, has been attempting for years to develop an anti-NGF drug for pain, but has been stymied by safety concerns over the new approach. (Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Sandra Maler)