Pharma Company Scores $2M Financing

Jupiter Orphan Therapeutics has secured $2 million in financing from an Australian investor as it continues to work on developing treatments for rare diseases.

Tarnagulla Ventures, based in Melbourne, committed the sum in the form of a convertible note with the first $1 million paid out immediately and the remaining $1 million to be paid when set milestones are met. JOT has also received $500,000 in equity financing through a charity-based financing group.

“This is a great step for JOT to get Tarnagulla as an investor,” said JOT Chairman and CEO Christer Rosén. “They made a very thorough due-diligence and started to act as a partner very early in the investment process. We would be hard pressed to find a better lead investor.”

JOT, based in its namesake city in Palm beach County, is a clinical stage speciality pharmaceutical company that focuses on developing treatments for “orphan diseases,” defined as a condition that affects fewer than 200,000 people nationwide.

It’s a lucrative market, also occupied by other South Florida pharmaceutical companies, such as Catalyst Pharmaceuticals in Coral Gables.

The Orphan Designation Act of 1983 paved the way for pharmaceutical companies, like JTO, to spend large sums of money to develop narrowly used drugs and later recoup some of those costs through grant funding and tax credits.

The process thereby guarantees that patients who suffer of rare diseases can gain access to treatment options — but for a price.

Orphan diseases include, for example, myasthenia gravis, a degenerative neuromuscular disease that impacts mobility.

According to the National Organization for Rare Disorder, 49 new orphan drugs were approved by the FDA in 2014 — more than in any other single year. The uptick coincides with requests for orphan designation, which increased 25 percent between 2013 and 2014.

In 2015, the narrow orphan drug sector continued to grow — about 12 percent. That’s more than double the growth of the general drug market, for which global spending is forecast to reach nearly $1.3 trillion by 2018 and about 40 percent of which is in the U.S. alone, according to a 2014 report by IMS Health Institute for Informatics.

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