Abivax to start partnering talks around HIV drug after Phase IIa study results - chairman

Published April 1st, 2015

Abivax plans to start partnering discussions for its HIV drug ABX464 after the release of Phase IIa data around mid-2015, said chairman Philippe Pouletty. The company aims to have a partner in 2016, he said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Cuba Opportunity Summit in New York on 1 April, Pouletty said it would seek a global development and commercialization partnership with a global company. Yet, he added, a US-EU deal excluding Asia or a US-EU deal in which Paris, France-based Abivax retained co-promotion rights in Europe would also be possible.

Entering such a partnership would depend on whether, in addition to overall deal value, the royalty and profit-sharing structure is sufficiently attractive, Pouletty said. If, however, the milestones are attractive but royalty percentage is in the low double digits, such a deal would be a no-go, he noted.

If the company is unable to find a suitable partnership for ABX464, it may instead continue to develop the drug on its own because it may consider an IPO this year on the Euronext exchange, the chairman said. The goal of an IPO would be to raise about USD 50-60m (EUR 45.9-55.1m).

If the company does do an IPO, it could potentially allow US investors to benefit from its business with Cuba, Pouletty said. The company is developing ABX203, a therapeutic vaccine against chronic hepatitis B, which it licensed from the Havana, Cuba-based Centro de Ingenieria Genetica y Biotecnologia (CIGB), as well as other vaccines licensed from CIGB.

Under the restrictions of the US trade embargo, Pouletty noted, it remains legal for US citizens to invest in companies that do business with Cuba so long as they do not derive at least 50% of their revenues from their Cuban operations. Abivax could use differential accounting to emphasize that US investors are benefiting from its European business rather than its Cuban business, but they would own the same shares as everybody else and would thus benefit indirectly from the Cuban business as well, he said.

ABX464 was developed by France’s National Center for Scientific Research. It works by inhibiting biogenesis of viral RNA that the AIDS virus requires to replicate, according to the company's website.

In addition to the Phase IIa study, a Phase IIb study is scheduled to start in 2H15, according to the company’s website, with data expected in 2H16. The company is using CRO Centre Cap for the Phase IIa study, but will use an internal process to select one for Phase IIb around 3Q15, this news service reported 3 February.

by Alaric DeArment in New York

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