- Neurimmune AG has renegotiated the terms of a licensing agreement it has with Biogen for the Alzheimer's disease drug aducanumab, reworking a deal with the longtime partner in exchange for near-term cash and showing Biogen's confidence for the highly-anticipated, yet risky, asset.
- Neurimmune, which discovered the drug and licensed it to Biogen in 2007, is forfeiting 15% of the potential royalties it would have received through aducanumab sales in exchange for a $150 million payment from the big biotech. Neurimmune's new royalty rates are now within the high single-digit to low-teens spectrum.
- Additionally, Biogen has the power to reduce Neurimmune's new royalties another 5% in exchange for another payment of $50 million. Japanese pharma Eisai Co. Ltd., which has opted in to commercializing aducanumab, may "share the benefits and costs of the royalty reduction," according to an Oct. 24 presentation.
One of the most closely watched drugs currently in the pipeline, aducanumab could be a revolutionary therapy for Alzheimer's patients. That's because, if approved, it would be the first disease-modifying treatment on the market.
But to reach that status, the drug will have to shine in Phase 3 testing — a notorious battleground for Alzheimer's medicines. Last year, Eli Lilly & Co.'s solanezumab delivered the latest big clinical blow up when it failed the late-stage EXPEDITION3 study. Like aducanumab, Lilly's drug targeted what's called amyloid beta, a type of protein that theories suggest contributes to the development of the neurodegenerative illness.
In spite of the many setbacks that have marred Alzheimer's drug research, aducanumab has been able to hold onto optimism from both Biogen and other drugmakers. Just this week, Eisai exercised an option from a 2014 agreement that gives it licensing rights to the drug in Japan and other countries. Together with the updated Neurimmune deal, the agreements bode well for the future profitability of aducanumab, according to Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos.
"We are very pleased with these new agreements," Vounatsos said during an Oct. 24 quarterly earnings call, adding that the alliances are the most important business development decisions made so far in 2017.
"We remain, with the right assumptions, very bullish on the opportunity we have with this product," he said. "With Neurimmune, we have a long-term collaboration and there are many things in play in the past, in the present and in the future. And I would say it's logical working together we achieved this agreement between the two companies."
From Neurimmune's end, the Swiss company will use Biogen's $150 million to progress its own human antibody pipeline through proof-of-concept investigations, according to a statement. The company received $380 million from Biogen when the original deal was signed.
Late-stage studies of aducanumab, meanwhile, are currently enrolling. Eisai has agreed to reimburse Biogen for 15% of the drug's development costs starting in April 2018 and going through December 2018. That financing will increase to 45% in 2019, a time at which "a large portion of the clinical spend will need to occur, " according to Vounatsos.
Biogen also worked with Neurimmune on another of its Alzheimer's disease pipeline candidates, BIIB076. The tau-targeting drug was discovered by the Swiss biotech and licensed to Biogen in 2010; it began Phase 1 testing earlier this year.