Galapagos thinks big

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Galapagos, the Mechelen biotech company, quit its inflammation alliance with Janssen under mutual agreement. Galapagos regained the proprietary rights of GLPG1205 and GLPG1690, two molecules under development for ulcerative colitis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis respectively. Elisabeth Goodwin, head of corporate communications at Galapagos, explains: “We try to have as many  fully proprietary assets as possible. By regaining the rights of the components in co-development with Janssen, we head in that direction. Janssen still benefits from Galapagos’ success, as J&J still possesses 8% of Galapagos.” The Phase 2B results of Filgotinib, the flagship product of Galapagos for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, are expected April 2015. “Abbvie (North Chicago, IL) will have the opportunity to license  this product. That will yield $200 million in our bank account. A phase 2 study is also ongoing with Filgotinib for Crohn’s disease. These results are expected at the end of the year. If Abbvie buys the license for Crohn’s disease too, we receive an additional $50 million. This does not even include the royalties that we will receive on top of that, which might be more than $1 billion,” adds Elisabeth.

Galapagos is also developing a treatment for patients with cystic fibrosis. It is working on a next-generation, triple combination therapy, and will be the only competitor of Vertex (Boston, MA). Currently, Vertex is the only company with an approved drug to treat the cause of cystic fibrosis. “Our cystic fibrosis product will be better than that of Vertex”, claims Elisabeth, “our next-generation therapy will be able to treat 90% of the people, whereas that of Vertex will be able to help only 80% of the patients. Vertex’s cystic fibrosis product is worth $30 million. This is huge.” When asked if they want to be bought by a big pharma concern, Elisabeth replies: “Not at all. In the beginning, partnering was very important for financing, enforcement and validation, and made us to what we are today.”

We have the ambition to independently grow and become the biggest and most successful biotech company.

“We hope at some point to develop, produce and bring the products for inflammation, mucoviscidosis and fibrosis to the patient ourselves.” Galapagos plans to collect $100 million with its IPO at NASDAQ.