Pennsylvania-based ViroPharma Inc. has reportedly signed a deal to acquire Swedish company DuoCort Pharma AB to expand its orphan disease commercial product pipeline. DuoCort has been developing the drug Plenadren® to treat adrenal insufficiency in adults. Once the drug is approved, ViroPharma plans to make an upfront closing cost of $33.6 million for DuoCort, with potential additional milestone payments of up to $131 million.  

According to ViroPharma, Plenadren® is a once-daily medication designed to more closely mimic the body’s natural secretion pattern of cortisol for patients who have adrenal insufficiency and depend on such therapies as exogenous glucocorticoid replacement. With orphan-drug designation status confirmed and 10 years of market exclusivity, the company anticipates the commercial launch of the drug in the European Union in approximately one year and estimates sales of up to $50 million in peak years.  

“This acquisition is consistent with ViroPharma’s objective of broadening our orphan drug portfolio of therapies for patients with serious conditions who lack effective treatment options,” said ViroPharma Chief Executive Officer Vincent Milano. “Plenadren will be an important drug for patients with Addison’s disease and other chronic adrenal insufficiencies, and is the first new drug in this therapeutic area in over 50 years.” See ViroPharma Press Release, October 27, 2011.