Forest Lab secures right of antidepressant Viibryd

Forest Laboratories said it would acquire the specialty pharmaceuticals company Clinical Data for as much as $1.2 billion, or $30 per share in order to get its hands on the latter’s recently approved major depressive disorder (MDD) drug Viibryd (vilazodone HCl tablets).

The New York-based Forest will pay an additional $6 a share dependent on the future sales performance of Viibryd, and will be maximal if the drug achieves net sales of $1.5 billion within the first seven years of launch. Forest aims to launch the drug in the U.S. during the second half of 2011. 

FDA  approved Viibryd  for the treatment of major depression in January 2011 after studies showed that it may not affect sexual function, a side effect of older antidepressants.  The drug works in a way similar to an existing antidepressant called trazodone, inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, as well as being  a partial agonist at the 1A serotonin receptor subtype.

Forest has been looking to license new drugs to replace top-selling Lexapro, an antidepressant that accounts for 56 percent of the company’s sales and is set to lose patent protection next year. Forest aims to leverage its existing sales force to turn Viibryd into a product with more than $1 billion in annual sales.

“We believe that we are uniquely positioned to bring Viibryd to market in light of our long and successful experience of clinical development and expertise in the antidepressant market,” comments Howard Solomon, chairman, president and CEO at Forest.

While Forest’s acquisition of Clinical Data is primarily driven by the approval of Viibryd, the latter’s clinical pipeline also includes Stedivaze (apadenoson), an adenosine A2A selective agonist in Phase III development as a pharmacologic stress agent for radionuclide myocardial perfusion imaging.

“Viibryd will be the second new product that we expect to launch this year in addition to Teflaro,” says Solomon, stating the acquisition of Clinical Data fits in with Forest’s strategy to acquire new products that will help offset the loss of revenues due to patent enquiries.

“In addition, we are hopeful to obtain FDA approval later this quarter for Daxas (roflumilast) for the treatment of COPD. We plan to submit NDAs for aclidinium and linaclotide in the second half of this year and for two additional products in calendar 2012, ” he added.