BELLUS Health reports financial and operating results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2015

LAVAL, QC, Nov. 12, 2015 /CNW/ - BELLUS Health Inc. (TSX: BLU) (BELLUS Health or the Company), a drug development company focused on rare diseases, today reported its financial and operating results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2015.

Highlights

  • Approximately 95% of the required events have occurred in the Phase III Confirmatory Study for KIACTA™;
  • KIACTA™ Phase III Confirmatory Study expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2016, with top-line data expected to be available in the middle of 2016;
  • Presented data from clinical and pre-clinical studies evaluating Shigamab™ in the treatment of sHUS at the International Symposium on Shiga toxin (verocytotoxin) Producing Escherichia Coli (VTEC) 2015 Conference in Boston;
  • Concluded the quarter with a cash position of $10.1 million, which should enable the Company to finance its operations beyond the data readout for the KIACTA™ Phase III Confirmatory Study.

"The KIACTA™ Phase 3 Confirmatory Study continues to progress, with study completion approaching and top-line data expected next year," said Roberto Bellini, President and Chief Executive Officer of BELLUS Health. "We also presented promising data for Shigamab™ at the VTEC conference that will help us design a Phase 2 study for this drug candidate."

KIACTA for AA amyloidosis

During the third quarter of 2015, the KIACTA™ Phase III Confirmatory Study continued to progress. The Phase III Confirmatory Study is an event-driven trial that requires 120 patients to experience an event linked to the deterioration of kidney function. To date, approximately 95% of the required events have occurred.

Based on the event rate, the Company anticipates the study to meet the 120 events by the first quarter of 2016. Concurrently, management expects that top-line data from the study will be available in the middle of 2016.

The study completed its enrollment in January 2015, with a total of 261 patients participating. The study is designed to confirm the safety and efficacy of KIACTA™ in preventing renal function decline in patients diagnosed with AA amyloidosis, an orphan indication resulting in renal dysfunction that often leads to dialysis and death.

As part of the Phase III Confirmatory Study, there are periodic meetings of the Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB), which independently assesses the safety of KIACTA™ throughout the study. Based on its last review in July 2015, the DSMB recommended that the study continue as per protocol.

BELLUS Health is partnered with global private equity firm Auven Therapeutics for the development of KIACTA™. Auven Therapeutics acquired the KIACTA™ rights in 2010, is conducting the KIACTA™ study and funding 100% of the development costs, including the Phase III Confirmatory Study and other related activities, which total costs are currently estimated to be in excess of US$60 million. Overall proceeds from potential future revenue of KIACTA™ will be shared between Auven Therapeutics and BELLUS Health based on a pre-agreed formula, and assuming that total divestiture transaction proceeds reach a pre-determined threshold, the parties will share aggregate proceeds equally.

The process to explore the sale of KIACTA™, which was initiated in May 2014 with the engagement of financial advisor Lazard by Auven Therapeutics, is on-going. This initiative provides increased flexibility to divest KIACTA™ at the most opportune time for stakeholders, whether that is prior to or following the conclusion of the KIACTA™ Phase III Confirmatory Study.

KIACTA™ for Sarcoidosis

BELLUS Health's partner, Auven Therapeutics, is currently developing a Phase II clinical study protocol to evaluate the safety and efficacy of KIACTA™ for the treatment of patients suffering from chronic pulmonary sarcoidosis. An investigational new drug application (IND) for this Phase II clinical study is expected to be filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the first half of 2016.

All costs in relation to the development of KIACTA™ in sarcoidosis will be borne by Auven Therapeutics. Proceeds from potential future revenue of KIACTA™, including the rights to KIACTA™ for sarcoidosis, are subject to the proceeds sharing agreement between Auven Therapeutics and BELLUS Health.

Chronic sarcoidosis is a rare, potentially fatal inflammatory condition that affects the lungs. There is no cure for sarcoidosis, and treatment options are limited and can have serious adverse effects.

Shigamab™ for sHUS

A clinical Phase 2 Proof-of-Concept study protocol is currently being designed for the assessment of the efficacy of Shigamab™ in the treatment of the Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome caused by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (sHUS), a rare disease primarily affecting the kidneys of children.

In September 2015, the Company presented data from clinical and pre-clinical studies evaluating Shigamab™ in the treatment of sHUS at the VTEC 2015 Conference in Boston. During the conference, BELLUS Health held its first Shigamab™ Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) meeting. The Company intends to meet with regulatory authorities in 2016 to present its clinical development plan for Shigamab™ in the treatment of sHUS.

In parallel with the preparation of the clinical Phase 2 Proof-of-Concept study, BELLUS Health also plans to perform an additional pre-clinical study in a sHUS intoxicated baboon model to help establish the optimal effective treatment window for Shigamab™ in sHUS patients.

Shigamab™ is a monoclonal antibody therapy being developed for the treatment of sHUS, which principally affects the kidneys and often leads to acute dialysis, and in certain cases chronic kidney disease and death, primarily in children.

Summary of Financial Results

All currency figures reported in this press release are in Canadian dollars, unless otherwise specified.


Three months ended
September 30, 2015

Three months ended
September 30, 2014


(in thousands of dollars, except per share data)

Revenues

593

420

Research and development expenses

(340)

(406)

General and administrative expenses

(622)

(810)

Net finance income

174

53

Deferred tax recovery

17

Net loss for the period

(178)

(743)

Net loss attributable to shareholders

(191)

(710)

Basic and diluted loss per share

(0.01)

 

The Company's full consolidated financial statements and accompanying management's discussion and analysis for the three and nine-month periods ended September 30, 2015 will be available shortly on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and on the Company's website at www.bellushealth.com.

  • Revenues amounted to $593,000 for the three-month period ended September 30, 2015, compared to $420,000 for the corresponding period the previous year. The increase is primarily attributable to higher revenue recognized for accounting purposes in 2015 in relation to the service agreement with Auven Therapeutics for KIACTA™.  
  • Research and development expenses amounted to $340,000 for the three-month period ended September 30, 2015, compared to $406,000 for the corresponding period the previous year. The decrease is primarily attributable to lower expenses incurred in relation to the development of Shigamab™.
  • General and administrative expenses amounted to $622,000 for the three-month period ended September 30, 2015, compared to $810,000 for the corresponding period the previous year. The decrease is primarily attributable to lower expenses recognized in 2015 in relation to the Company's deferred share unit plans as well as the stock option plan.
  • Net finance income amounted to $174,000 for the three-month period ended September 30, 2015, compared to $53,000 for the corresponding period the previous year. The increase is primarily attributable to an increase in the foreign exchange gain that arose from the translation of the Company's net monetary assets denominated in US dollars, due to the appreciation of the US dollar vs the Canadian dollar in 2015.

As at September 30, 2015, the Company had available cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments totalling $10,144,000, compared to $12,307,000 as at December 31, 2014. Based on management's estimate, the current cash position should enable the Company to finance its operations beyond the data readout for the KIACTA™ Phase III Confirmatory Study, expected in 2016.

About BELLUS Health (www.bellushealth.com)

BELLUS Health is a drug development company focused on rare diseases. Its pipeline of rare disease projects includes KIACTA™ in Phase III for AA amyloidosis, KIACTA™ for sarcoidosis, clinical stage Shigamab™ for sHUS and a research-stage project for AL amyloidosis. The lead program KIACTA™ is currently in a Phase III Confirmatory Study for the treatment of AA amyloidosis, an orphan indication resulting in renal dysfunction that often leads to dialysis and death. BELLUS Health is partnered with global private equity firm Auven Therapeutics for the development of KIACTA™.

About AA Amyloidosis

AA amyloidosis is a deadly condition that progresses from chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. The disease causes a protein called amyloid A to accumulate in major organs, particularly the kidneys, which leads to organ dysfunction, failure, and eventually death.

There is currently no available treatment for AA amyloidosis. A recent commercial assessment study conducted by Navigant Consulting on behalf of Auven Therapeutics and BELLUS Health identified between 10,000 and 15,000 KIACTA™ eligible patients with AA amyloidosis in the United States and Europe.

KIACTA™ has been granted Orphan Drug designation or its equivalent for the treatment of AA amyloidosis in the United States, Europe and Japan, which provide for market exclusivity for a period of seven to ten years once the drug is approved, as well as a reduction in application and review fees.

Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements contained in this news release, other than statements of fact that are independently verifiable at the date hereof, may constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Canadian securities legislation and regulations.  Such statements, based as they are on the current expectations of management, inherently involve numerous important risks, uncertainties and assumptions, known and unknown, many of which are beyond BELLUS Health Inc.'s control. Such risks factors include but are not limited to: the ability to obtain financing, the impact of general economic conditions, general conditions in the pharmaceutical industry, changes in the regulatory environment in the jurisdictions in which the BELLUS Health Inc. does business, stock market volatility, fluctuations in costs, changes to the competitive environment due to consolidation, achievement of forecasted burn rate, potential payments/outcomes in relation to indemnity agreements and contingent value rights, achievement of forecasted pre-clinical and clinical trial milestones, dependence on Auven Therapeutics for the completion of the KIACTA™ Phase III Confirmatory Study and that actual results may vary once the final and quality-controlled verification of data and analyses has been completed. In addition, the length of the KIACTATM Phase III Confirmatory Study is dependent upon many factors, including patient drop-out rate and occurrence of clinical endpoint events, and the sharing of proceeds between Auven Therapeutics and BELLUS Health Inc. from potential future revenue of KIACTA™ is dependent upon a number of factors, including the quantum of proceeds. Consequently, actual future results and events may differ materially from the anticipated results and events expressed in the forward-looking statements. The Company believes that expectations represented by forward-looking statements are reasonable, yet there can be no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. The reader should not place undue reliance, if any, on any forward-looking statements included in this news release. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date made, and BELLUS Health Inc. is under no obligation and disavows any intention to update publicly or revise such statements as a result of any new information, future event, circumstances or otherwise, unless required by applicable legislation or regulation. Please see BELLUS Health Inc.'s public filings with the Canadian securities regulatory authorities, including the Annual Information Form, for further risk factors that might affect BELLUS Health Inc. and its business.

SOURCE BELLUS Health Inc.

For further information: Adam Peeler, National Equicom, 416-586-1941, apeeler@national.ca

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