Northwestern University has sold a portion of its royalty rights for the painkiller Lyrica to Royalty Pharma in a deal worth $700 million according to the Chicago Tribune. Northwestern chemists were the first to synthesize the chemical compound pregabalin, which is the main ingredient of Lyrica.
The university will continue to collect some royalties on the drug, which is marketed by Pfizer to treat nerve pain associated with diabetes, shingles and fibromyalgia.
The bulk of the $700 million will go into NU’s endowment fund, which is worth $6.6 billion, but some portion will go to the chemists who synthesized pregabalin. Lyrica sold close to $900 million in 2006, according to IMS Health data, and estimates are that it will top $1 billion for 2007.
By accepting a lump sum and depositing most of it in NU’s endowment fund, the university can grow the amount by earning interest, said Eugene Sunshine, Northwestern’s senior vice president for business and finance. “You get a big chunk of money now and put the money to work for you,” said Sunshine. “We’ll be able to do more with it than we would’ve been able to do otherwise.”