Aclaris in talks with potential partners in Asia, EU – CEO

Aclaris Therapeutics [NASDAQ:ACRS] is in talks with potential European and Asian partners to market its novel treatment for a common skin condition called seborrheic keratosis (SK), according to CEO Neal Walker.

The Malvern, Pennsylvania-based company has completed Phase III clinical trials involving nearly 1,000 patients for the treatment, called A-101, and plans to file for FDA approval sometime this quarter, the company previously announced. If approved, the company plans to launch the product in 1Q18.

Aclaris is a venture-backed company that listed on NASDAQ in mid-2015. Its current market cap is roughly USD 660m. It reported cash and equivalents of USD 182m as of 30 September, 2016.

In an interview, Walker said that the company plans to market A-101 on its own in the US. It has begun hiring for what it expects will be a 50- to 60-person sales force to market the treatment to an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 dermatologists in the US market.

The company is in talks with a number of potential European drug companies to market the treatment there and expects to file for EU approval in 2017, said Walker. In Asia, the company plans to seek a partner who could conduct clinical trials and eventually also market the treatment there, he said.

A-101 is a topical treatment that uses a much stronger formulation – 40% or so – of hydrogen peroxide than the 3% formula normally sold in pharmacies. The company is also in Phase II testing of A-101 to treat common warts.

An estimated 83.8m people in the US have seborrheic keratosis, and there is no FDA-approved topical treatment, according to the company. Common treatments include cryosurgery using liquid nitrogen, along with surgical methods.

Aclaris is aiming to get into a growing market for aesthetic treatments that is expected to reach USD 12.6bn by 2020, according to company literature. A top player in the market is Allergan [NYSE:AGN], with its Botox and Juvederm wrinkle treatments. Allergan in 2015 also purchased Kythera Biopharmaceuticals for USD 1.95bn, which makes treatments for double chin.

Walker said he is not looking to sell the company, but said that “all options” could be interesting and that “you never know where business development takes you.” He declined to say if the company has held talks with any potential acquirers.

A year ago, Aclaris purchased privately held Vixen Pharmaceuticals, a developer of hair loss treatments, for about USD 43m. Walker said that the company is looking at a number of other acquisition opportunities to similarly build its pipeline in complementary products.

by Dane Hamilton

Provided exclusively by Mergermarket

As seen in the mergermarket newsletter on 07/02/2017

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