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Bioscience and pharmaceutical New Castle County News

Incyte signs drug development deal with Chinese firm

Katie Tabeling
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Incyte has signed a deal with China Medical System Holdings Limited on povorcitinib. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. | DBT PHOTO BY MIKE ROCHELEAU

WILMINGTON — Incyte signed a new collaboration and license agreement with a Chinese firm on a new treatment, setting its eyes on the international market.

The deal with China Medical System Holdings Limited (CMS), a Shanghai-based investment company that produces and markets pharmaceutical products, is for the development and commercialization of povorcitinib, which is an oral drug that targets and blocks JAK1 enzymes linked with cancer, inflammation and other diseases.

Under the terms of the agreement, CMS will make an upfront payment to Incyte to exclusively license the drug to treat dermatologic diseases like vitiligo which causes the loss of skin color in patches and hidradenitis suppurativa, a chronic inflammatory skin disease with painful nodules, abscesses and scarring.  It can also be used in autoimmune related conditions like asthma.

In exchange, Incyte is eligible to receive potential royalties on development and commercial milestones and sales of the drug in CMS’s territory, including China, Hong Kong, Macao, regions of Taiwan and eleven Southeast Asian countries. 

The financial payment for the arrangement was not disclosed.

“There remains a significant need for new, innovative treatment for vitiligo and other immune-mediated dermatologic conditions, and we look forward to working together with the CMS team to bringing these products to market in China,” Incyte Chief Executive Officer Hervé Hoppenot said in a prepared statement.

The deal dovetails off a previous agreement between the two companies hammered out back in late 2022 when Incyte and CMS signed a similar collaboration and licensing deal on Opzelura, a skin cream that can treat a variety of conditions from eczema to vitiligo.

Last year, Incyte won U.S. Food & Drug Administration approval for Opzelura for eczema use in some patients and this summer became the first to win FDA approval for a vitiligo treatment.

Neither Opzelura, nor povorcitinib, are approved by Chinese officials – but if they are eventually approved, it will put CMS and Incyte ahead of the curve. It’s estimated that there are approximately 14 million vitiligo patients in China and 6.5 million in the eleven Southeast Asian countries respectively, according to CMS filings.

Last year, Incyte announced that povorcitinib met significant milestones in its clinical trial for treating non-segmental vitiligo. Results showed that after 24 weeks of treatment, skin repigmentation improved in patients.

Huang Anjun, the general manager of CMS’s subsidiary CMS Skinhealth, noted that povorcitinib has the potential to build off the company’s portfolio for vitiligo. 

“Upon approval, povorcitinib is poised to synergize with the innovative drugs in the commercialization stage of our pipeline,” Anjun said. “In terms of our network and market resources, which will help the [povorcitinib] to realize its clinical and commercial value.”

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