- In a potentially $2 billion-plus deal with Galapagos, Gilead will develop and commercialize filogotinib, a late-stage compound for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
- In September, AbbVie backed out of a licensing deal with Galapagos for development of the same drug in order to pursue in-house opportunities.
- Gilead will pay Galapagos $425 million up front, in addition to a $300 million licensing fee for developing and selling filgotinib. There is the potential of a further $1.35 billion in payments from Gilead if development milestones are met.
With this deal, cash-rich Gilead enters a growing field of contenders for RA treatments. Currently, there are several candidates in late-stage clinical development for RA. GlaxoSmithKline recently claimed positive results from a Phase 3 trial for sirukumab. Eli Lilly is working on baricitinib, while Sanofi/Regeneron are developing sarilumab.
Gilead has raked in more than $18 billion from its hep C franchise drugs in the last 12 months, giving the firm ammunition to expand.
RA patients often don't respond to certain treatments and have to transition to other medications, making the market for RA treatments broader. Additionally, the CDC estimates a relatively high prevalence rate of 0.4% to 1.3% worldwide, including roughly 1.5 million people in the U.S.
After snubbing Galapagos, AbbVie is moving forward with the development of its JAK1 inhibitor, ABT-494—earmarking it for potential blockbuster status. The U.S. drugmaker already markets Humira, a top- selling biologic with an RA indication. Humira earned $11 billion in sales last year.