Aeterna Zentaris Finalizes Key Promotional Agreement with Merck’s EMD Serono, Inc.

Posted by Laura Swartz

May 7, 2015 at 1:14 PM

Specialty biopharmaceutical company Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (AEZS-NASDAQ; AEZ-TSX) announced this morning that it has entered into a promotional services agreement with EMD Serono, Inc., the U.S. and Canadian biopharmaceutical businesses of Merck KGaA (MRK-NYSE). Under the agreement, Aeterna can begin promoting Saizen® [somatropin (rDNA origin) for injection] to designated medical professionals in specified territories in the U.S. Aeterna will work within the realm of field promotion of Saizen® by driving awareness of the product among medical professionals, and expects to be compensated on the basis of new, eligible patient starts on Saizen® above an agreed-upon baseline. This is the second promotional services agreement for Aeterna in recent months, as the company accelerates its transition into a commercially operating specialty biopharma by leveraging its sales force.
 
About Saizen® for Growth Hormone Deficiency
 
Saizen® is a recombinant human Growth Hormone (r-hGH) registered in the U.S. for the treatment of growth hormone deficiency (GHD) in both children and adults. A deficiency of growth hormone in the body can cause slow growth in children, and without treatment, few will reach their full height potential as an adult. It is a disorder affecting one in every 4,000 to 10,000 children and up to three in every 10,000 adults. Aeterna believes that Saizen® represents a good fit for the company’s endocrinology portfolio currently in development, which includes Aeterna’s in-house product candidate Macrilen™ (macimorelin), a novel, orally available peptidomimetic ghrelin receptor agonist that stimulates the secretion of growth hormone and that is used to diagnose adult growth hormone deficiency.
 
Full prescribing information and important risk information for Saizen® can be read here.
 
Co-promotion Agreement with Ascend Therapeutics® US, LLC
 
In addition to its own promotional efforts for Saizen®, Aeterna Zentaris has also subcontracted with Ascend Therapeutics, with whom it has previously established a co-promotion agreement that is currently underway, to detail Saizen® in territories not covered by Aeterna Zentaris. Financial terms of this agreement were not disclosed.
 
Aeterna’s relationship with Ascend Therapeutics centers on Aeterna’s co-promotion of Ascend’s non-patch, transdermal hormone replacement therapy, EstroGel®, within 19 specific regions of the U.S. The marketing and promotion services are in exchange for a high percentage of sales commission payable to Aeterna or one of its subsidiaries based upon incremental EstroGel® sales generated over certain pre-established thresholds. EstroGel® is a top-prescribed product in Europe and the leading prescribed transdermal product in Canada, participating in the $3.6 billion estrogen replacement market.
 
In 2014, Aeterna engaged a full-time U.S. sales force of approximately 19 sales representatives for the field selling of EstroGel®. In conjunction with Ascend’s existing sales force, there are now a total of 53 sales reps performing Saizen® and EstroGel® promotional activities.
 
A link to the full press release from Aeterna is available here.

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