Celgene makes play to strengthen PD-1 position
- Celgene is upping the stakes for its cancer portfolio, inking a deal with Beijing’s BeiGene for its PD-1 inhibitor BGB-A317 in solid tumors.
- The big biotech is paying $263 million upfront plus a $150 million equity investment for the rights to develop the drug for solid tumor cancers in the U.S., Europe, Japan and the rest of the world outside of Asia.
- BeiGene will hold on to the rights for the hematological malignancies, as well as rights in Asia, except for Japan. BeiGene will also acquire Celgene’s commercial operations in China and market its already approved cancer drugs there.
Celgene hasn’t been considered a major player in the PD-1 space. The big biotech acquired the rights to AstraZeneca’s PD-L1 inhibitor durvalumab in early-2015 for hematological tumors.
Celgene piggybacked on AstraZeneca’s potential blockbuster with a $450 million upfront and is leading all development and commercialization efforts in hematology. Celgene stands to get a 70% royalty rate on sales of durvalumab in any hematological indications.
While Celgene has largely played in the hematology space — hoping to carve out its niche in the highly-competitive oncology world — a small part of its pipeline is in solid tumors. Other than the already-approved Abraxane (paclitaxel), that solid tumor pipeline is largely in Phase 1. With the Beigene deal, the big biotech is significantly bolstering its efforts in the space; giving it a PD-1 inhibitor in both blood cancers and solid tumor cancers.
Celgene will take a 5.9% stake in BeiGene by purchasing 32.7 million shares at $59.55 apiece. It has also agreed to pay up to $980 million in development, regulatory and sales milestone and royalties on future sales of BGB-A317.
BGB-A317 has undergone pivotal trials in China and is expected to start global pivotal trials in 2018.
So far, five PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibitors have been approved in the U.S. across a variety of cancers. While the drugs have been touted as a revolutionary step forward in the oncology field, there have been a number of setbacks — notably the failure of Bristol Myers Squibb's Opdivo (nivolumab) in lung cancer, followed by Roche's Tecentriq trial miss in bladder cancer and, more recently, the death of Keytruda-treated patients in two multiple myeloma studies..
- Celgene Press release
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