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Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA) is handing off one of its drug candidates to United Therapeutics (UTHR) in exchange for an eye-popping $800 million upfront payment, the company announced Thursday. The deal could ultimately be worth up to $1.2 billion.

United will receive most of the rights to ralinepag, which Arena has been testing for pulmonary arterial hypertension. The drug is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials.


Arena may receive up to $400 million more from the agreement — $250 million if United Therapeutics manages to develop and bring to market an inhalable version of the drug, and another $150 million if it commercializes ralinepag in Japan or one of a few European countries. (Everest Medicines already has a deal with Arena covering the rights to the drug in China.)

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