Verona Pharma Enters into $219M Ensifentrine Collaboration with Nuance Pharma

Clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Verona Pharma (VRNA) has granted specialty pharmaceutical company Nuance Pharma the development and commercialization rights for its ensifentrine in the Greater China region.

Ensifentrine can potentially alleviate respiratory symptoms like breathlessness and cough and treat inflammation related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or viruses. The drug is currently being evaluated in a global Phase 3 study for maintenance treatment of COPD.

Under the agreement, Verona will receive an upfront payment of $25 million in cash and a $15 million equity interest in Nuance. Additionally, Verona could receive milestone payments totaling up to $179 million from Nuance as well as tiered double-digit royalties on product sales in the Greater China region.

David Zaccardelli, Pharm. D., President, and CEO of Verona Pharma said, “We are extremely excited about the formation of this strategic partnership with Nuance Pharma to further the development and future commercialization of ensifentrine in Greater China.” (See Verona Pharma stock analysis on TipRanks)

Nuance will be responsible for the development and commercialization costs of the drug in China and plans to file a Clinical trial Application with the China Food and Drug Administration later this year.

On May 26, Wedbush analyst Liana Moussatos reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and a price target of $25 (284% upside potential).

Moussatos commented, “Given ensifentrine’s unique mechanism of action and favorable safety and efficacy profile, we see the potential for ensifentrine to address the significant unmet need in symptomatic COPD patients with positive results from Phase 3 studies in 2022.”

The analyst estimates ensifentrine could achieve $1 billion in gross annual U.S. sales in 2029 after a Q1 2024 launch.

The other analyst covering the stock, Canaccord Genuity’s Edward Nash also has a Buy rating alongside a price target of $18 (176.5% upside potential).

The two ratings add up to a Moderate Buy consensus rating. The VRNA average analyst price target of $21.50 implies 230.3% upside potential.

Shares have gained about 17.3% over the past year.

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