Despite Losses, Aratana Focused on Future

The FDA is weighing the approval of Galliprant, Entyce and Nocita, which would join two lymphoma drugs already on the veterinary market.

Aratana Therapeutics has invested heavily in research and development as it pursues a number of breakthrough drugs.

ARATANA THERAPEUTICS INC.

Drug developer Aratana Therapeutics Inc. lost $84.1 million in 2015 but reported having plenty of cash on hand to support planned launches of osteoarthritis, inappetence and pain medications for dogs.

The net loss, more than twice the size of 2014’s red ink, didn’t dishearten CEO Steven St. Peter, M.D., who in the company’s financial report Monday pointed to “significant progress on our late-stage product candidates.”

Awaiting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine are three products that Aratana expects to begin selling in late 2016:

  • Galliprant (grapiprant tablets), for the control of pain and inflammation in dogs with osteoarthritis.
  • Entyce (capromorelin oral solution), for appetite stimulation in dogs with inappetence.
  • Nocita (bupivacaine liposome injectable solution), for local pain relief in dogs recovering from cranial cruciate ligament surgery.

Galliprant also was submitted to the European Medicines Agency for review and could launch across Europe in 2017.

St. Peter told financial analysts in a conference call today that his Leawood, Kan., company hopes to partner with a larger company, perhaps a pharmaceutical manufacturer, to bolster international sales.

“We seek a … big company, small company collaboration,” he said. “What we’re looking for is a partner to come to the table and help us build global brands around these products. You want the brands to be coordinated between the U.S. and Europe, and hopefully that partner can then take the products into other territories and help monetize the assets.”

Six-year-old Aratana’s only revenue comes from two lymphoma drugs for dogs: Tactress, a monoclonal antibody T-cell therapy, and Blontress, a B-cell therapeutic. Most of the $678,000 in 2015 net revenue was attributed to Tactress.

Aratana’s bank accounts are large enough to support commercial drug launches and further research and development through at least 2016, St. Peter said. The company possessed more than $86 million as of Dec. 31 and had access to a $5 million line of credit.

Spending on research and development is expected to reach $30 million in 2016, and overall costs could total as much as $55 million, the company stated.

Among other potential products in Aratana’s pipeline is AT-014, a code name for a therapeutic vaccine designed for the treatment of canine osteosarcoma. The company is anticipating a conditional license for AT-014 by year’s end from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Veterinary Biologics.

Winning government approvals is of utmost important, but so is the need to alert veterinary professionals about Aratana and its product catalog, St. Peter said. The company drew thousands of veterinarians to sponsored events at the North America Veterinary Community and WVC conferences in February and March.

“Over the course of 2016 we will have sponsored over 50 talks and … 25 presentations,” he told the financial analysts.

“We’ve been actively investing in … commercial awareness. We’ve been scanning the badges, collecting the data, talking to veterinarians, doing surveys.”

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