RARE Daily

Citrine Building Rare Disease Company in China through Partnerships

October 28, 2020

Rare Daily Staff

The China-based rare disease company Citrine Medicine said that it has entered into a development and licensing agreement with the French drug developer Bioprojet SCR that provides Citrine with exclusive rights to the narcolepsy drug pitolisant in China.

Narcolepsy is a rare, chronic, debilitating neurological disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, a sudden loss of muscle control triggered by emotions, and hallucinations among other symptoms.

Pitolisant is a selective histamine H3-receptor antagonist/inverse agonist which enhances the activity of histaminergic neurons. The drug was approved by the EMA in 2016 for the treatment of narcolepsy in adults with or without cataplexy and is marketed in major countries in Europe and was approved by the FDA in 2018.  The drug pitolisant is distributed under the tradename Wakix in the European Union and the United States for the treatment of narcolepsy in adult patients with and without cataplexy. 

Citrine is working to introduce orphan drugs in China. In addition to developing and marketing rare disease drugs, the company is establishing a patient-centric platform that educates people on rare diseases, trains doctors on diagnosis and treatment, and helps doctors develop a full disease management protocol.

Eight Roads, F-Prime Capital, and Vivo Capital founded Citrine and recently closed an $80 million Series A financing led by Quan Capital, a China-based, healthcare-focused venture capital firm. The three founding investors, together with 3H Health Investment and WU Capital, also participated in the round.

“We believe Citrine is well positioned to build an ecosystem in China to support patients suffering from rare diseases,” said Rebecca Lin, Partner at Eight Roads Ventures and a member of Citrine’s board of directors. “The partnership with Bioprojet represents the company’s first effort to bring in validated medicines for patients in need.”

While great strides have been made in rare disease research and drug development in recent years, Chong Xu, principal at F-Prime Capital and a Citrine board member said access to both knowledge and treatment options has been a barrier for rare disease patients in China.

“Recent regulatory reforms and policy changes in China are paving the way for an expedited drug approval pathway for rare disease drugs, and Citrine is poised to leverage this positive environment to deliver much-needed therapies to the people who need them,” he said. “We believe the partnership with Bioprojet to bring pitolisant to patients in China is a great first step towards that vision.”

Photo: Rebecca Lin, Partner at Eight Roads Ventures

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