Open Orphan wins €9.5m asthma contract with major pharma company

Study is being carried out under asthma human challenge study model

Dublin-listed pharmaceutical services company Open Orphan said its subsidiary hVivo has signed an £8.1 million (€9.5 million) asthma contract with a major pharmaceutical firm to test an inhaled human rhinovirus antiviral product.

Around 5.4 million people in the UK are currently receiving treatment for asthma. Illnesses such as the common cold, which can be caused by the human rhinovirus, can make symptoms worse.

The study is expected to begin in the first half of 2022. The company involved was not named, although Open Orphan identified it as one of the top five European pharmaceutical firms.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted that,for the past 30 years, there has been very little investment into the infectious disease and respiratory products space," said Cathal Friel, executive chairman of Open Orphan.


“When the pandemic arrived the world discovered that the medicine cabinet of infectious disease products to deal with Covid-19 was virtually empty.”

He said the market for infectious and respiratory diseases was expected to grow from $20 billion in 2019 to $250 billion by 2025.

“This restocking of the pharmaceutical industries medicine cabinet of infectious disease products around the world is now leading to an enormous expansion of investment into the infectious disease and respiratory product market and will be seen as one of the biggest growth opportunities in the history of the pharmaceutical industry.”

Mr Friel said Open Orphan was ideally situated to be one of the few companies in the world that can quickly and efficiently test a broad range of new infectious and respiratory disease products in its human challenge clinical trial studies.

Analysts at FinnCap Capital Markets noted that this is the first asthma study hVivo has signed in years. It said that the company’s asthma human challenge study model had the potential to be worth “up to 20 per cent of [the company’s] revenue moving forward”.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist