The agreements with AstraZeneca, Merck Serono (a division of Merck KGaA, Germany) and one other partner establish for Flexion, a mature pipeline of clinically enabled drug candidates focused on inflammatory diseases. An investment from Pfizer's Venture Capital group closed Flexion's Series A financing round at $42m.
As per the in-licensing deals, Flexion has acquired a clinically enabled compound from AstraZeneca, a compound from Merck Serono and two other clinical compounds from an undisclosed pharmaceutical partner. The potential drugs will be developed for a range of inflammatory conditions, including the intra-articular treatment of osteoarthritis, and for tinnitus.
Financial terms were not disclosed but the agreements include milestone payments and royalties, if the compounds are successful.
Mike Clayman, chief executive officer of Flexion Therapeutics, said: "To win the confidence of four major pharmaceutical companies and be able to partner on such high-quality assets is a real tribute to our team. We were able to review over 100 compounds from numerous potential partners before selecting these high-value specialty programs, each of which has increased probability of success at both proof of concept and Phase 3."
Barbara Dalton, vice president of worldwide business development for venture capital and established products at Pfizer, said: "We were impressed from the start by Flexion's smart approach to drug development. In an age of ever increasing costs, it's refreshing to find a management team with a proven track record of driving down development costs and speeding the delivery of defining data."
Rodger McMillan, vice president of respiratory & inflammation research area at AstraZeneca, said: "Our internal R&D is complemented by external collaborations like this one with Flexion designed to realize the value of our innovative portfolio. In Flexion, we recognised a company that could efficiently progress compounds to make a difference for patients."
Vincent Aurentz, executive vice president of portfolio development at Merck Serono, said: "A willingness to fully explore the potential of highly innovative products in collaborative structures is critical for our strategy. The deep development expertise of Flexion makes them an ideal partner for us."
Pfizer Venture Investments joins a strong syndicate of investors in backing Flexion. In October last year, Flexion announced an initial Series A funding round of $33m from established venture capital firms, Versant Ventures, 5AM and Sofinnova Partners.