- San Francisco-based biotech Exelixis has sold off some of the rights to its cancer drug cabozantinib for $200 million to the French drugmaker Ipsen. The deal gives Ipsen exclusive commercialization rights to the drug outside of the U.S., Canada, and Japan.
- Ipsen will pay the $200 million upfront, with an further $655 million contingent on the drug hitting regulatory and commercial milestones.
- Cabozantinib is approved as Cometriq in the E.U. for treatment of metastatic medullary thyroid cancer. A phase 3 trial is also underway examining the drug's potential against advanced hepatocellular carcinoma, with results expected in 2017.
Exelixis' fortunes dimmed after a 2014 phase 3 trial of cabozantinib failed, forcing the company to lay off 70% of its staff, according to Xconomy. However, the biotech re-focused on testing the drug against kidney and liver cancers, and recent positive data has revived hopes.
After the METEOR phase 3 trial returned promising results, Exelixis filed for U.S. and E.U. regulatory approval for second-line treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma. In the E.U., cabozantinib received an accelerated assessment for this indication, cutting its review period by 60 days. The deal with Ipsen will also transfer sponsorship of this application.
Separately, Exelixis reported fourth quarter results showing $9.9 million in revenue, up from $7.3 million a year previous. Reduced R&D costs pared its operating expenses and led to a narrower net loss of $43 million on the quarter, and $169 million on the year. The company has $253 million in cash and cash equivalents as of December 31, 2015.