Bristol, Roche tap Halozyme for tech platform
- Halozyme Therapeutics Inc. could take home more than $2 billion through a pair of licensing deals with big pharmas for its drug delivery technology.
- Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. has agreed to pay $105 million upfront for access to Halozyme's Enhanze platform, which uses enzymes to help injectable drugs be more easily spread and absorbed upon administration, to use on as many as 11 targets. Separately, Roche AG has agreed to pay $30 million upfront to use the platform on a single, undisclosed target.
- Between the two deals, Halozyme could also fetch $1.9 billion in milestone payments and potential royalties. To that end, the company upped its 2017 guidance. It now expects to have net revenues of $245 million to $260 million, roughly double its previous projections.
How a medication is administered is crucial for both consumers and drugmakers. Drugs with more effective or simple modes of delivery often offer greater therapeutic benefit for patients, in turn giving their manufacturers a stronger competitive edge.
With those benefits in mind, the pharmaceutical industry has heavily invested in drug delivery platforms. A January report from research firm MarketsandMarkets, for instance, estimated the drug delivery technology market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.2% from 2016 to 2021, reaching $1.67 trillion by the latter year.
Halozyme's Enhanze uses what's called recombinant human hyaluronidase enzyme (rHuPH20), a protein that temporarily breaks down a type of sugar responsible for adding structure to the skin. Dismantling some of that sugar creates channels underneath the skin that allow a patient to more readily absorb treatments — especially those with large molecules or large volumes. Importantly, such technology offers a way to subcutaneously administer an intravenous drug.
"When you think about patients today, they live long, healthy lives with some of the innovative therapies, but what holds them back is still having to go back to the infusion center once a month for a half day or a day to receive their therapy," Halyozyme CEO Helen Torley said in an interview with BioPharma Dive.
So far, four medicines employing rHuPH20 have received approval in the U.S. and/or Europe: subcutaneous Herceptin (trastuzumab) for HER2-positive breast cancer; Hyqvia (immune globulin infusion 10% (human) with recombinant human hyaluronidase) for immune support; and subcutaneous MabThera/Rituxan Hycela(rituximab) for multiple cancers.
Amid those successes, Torley said her company has seen a steady stream of interest for Enhanze from both big and small drugmakers. Its list of partners includes Pfizer Inc., AbbVie Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co.
Roche has been the longest licensee. The Swiss pharma inked its first deal for Enhanze back in 2006. By the end of 2016, it had used the platform for eight targets.
Bristol, conversely, is a new partner for Halozyme. The heavyweight in cancer drugs plans to pair the Enhanze technology with "multiple immuno-oncology targets including programmed death 1 (PD-1)," as well as additional targets, according to a Sept. 14 statement. More serious deal talks between the companies materialized this year, according to Torley.
In terms of 2017 line items, Halozyme anticipates the deals won't change its previous projections for operating expenses, which fall between $240 million and $250 million, but will have a positive effect on operating cash flow and year-end cash balance.
Torley also said her company is open to more dealmaking.
Halozyme stock opened Thursday at $15.58 per share, up 18% from the prior day. Shares continued to rise in early morning trading, hitting a high of $16.35 apiece.
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