New Endometriosis Drug

Abbott and Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. have announced a collaborative agreement between them to develop and market elagolix for treating the pain of endometriosis. Elagolix is a unique, first of its class gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonist that can be taken by mouth. The drug has just completed a phase IIb study as a treatment for endometriosis. The researchers plan to evalute elagolix as a treatment for uterine fibroids, as well.

Significant Relief

In both preclinical and clinical trials, elagolix has been found to bring significant relief in women suffering from endometriosis and uterine fibroids. According to the senior vice president of Abbott's division of pharmaceuticals, research, and development John Leonard, M.D., these two conditions affecting women are very widespread and new treatments are very much needed. Leonard says that the new agreement will help push elagolix through the last stages of its development, with some potential for creating other compounds during the earlier stages of development.

The terms of the agreement specify that Abbott will have the exclusive, worldwide rights to both develop and market elagolix and any next-generation GnRH antagonists for the purpose of aiding the health of both genders. Abbott will pay out an initial $75 million and will then fund subsequent activities related to the development of elagolix.

Neurocrine will become eligible for further payments of around $500 million at each milestone along the way. This company will also be provided with funding for some of its expenses and will receive royalties on the sales of future related products.

Neurocrine president and chief executive officer Kevin Gorman spoke highly of Abbott and is thrilled to have this company as a partner for developing a GnRH portfolio for the health problems of both sexes. Gorman believes that the two companies share a vision for elagolix and believes the drug will serve a significant role in the pharmacopeia for treating endometriosis and uterine fibroids.

Partial Suppression

Elagolix blocks the gonadatropin releasing hormone (GnRH) receptors that are located within the pituitary gland. This reduces the levels of the sex hormones produced. Elagolix is unique in that it causes only a partial suppression of the female sex hormone estrogen. The medication allows for enough estradiol to remain in the body to provide for a low-normal range. This means that a woman will have reduced symptoms without risking much bone loss or any of the other negative effects that result when too much estrogen is suppressed.

During its phase II studies, elagolix brought about a significant reduction in endometriosis-related pain. Thus far, elagolix has undergone a total of 18 clinical trials that included over 1,000 participants.

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