Biogen and Roche have signed a royalty deal for an experimental lymphoma drug developed by the Swiss pharmaceutical company, the latest agreement in a longstanding collaboration between the two that’s produced the antibody drugs Rituxan, Ocrevus and Gazyva.
Under the agreement, Roche will pay Biogen “tiered royalties in the mid-single digits range” on U.S. sales should the medicine, called glofitamab, win approval, Biogen said Monday. Biogen will not pay for development or commercialization of the drug, which is a new type of antibody treatment known as a “bispecific” that tries to direct immune cells to attack diseased cells.
By comparison, Biogen receives royalties of up to 24% on U.S. sales of the multiple sclerosis drug Ocrevus, and could receive 38% of U.S. operating profits for another bispecific antibody called mosunetuzumab, for which it is contributing to the development and commercialization, the Massachusetts-based biotech said in its annual report.
On mosunetuzumab, Biogen exercised its option to co-develop the drug in the U.S. earlier this year. The European Union approved that drug as Lunsumio in June, and Biogen receives “low-single digit” royalties on non-U.S. sales.
EU regulators are reviewing Roche Phase 2 data from glofitamab for a potential approval.
The collaboration, which accounted for 15% of Biogen's revenue in 2021, dates back to 1995 and saw its first approved product two years later in Rituxan, the first antibody drug to treat cancer. It centers on a protein called CD20 that is found in greater numbers on a type of immune cell called a B cell in people with lymphoma, and drugs that target it can help kill the diseased B cells.
Glofitamab and Lunsumio both bind to CD20 and another protein called CD3 found on T cells, which redirects those T cells to attack the diseased B cells.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved two bispecific antibodies in blood cancers, Amgen’s Blincyto and Johnson & Johnson’s Tecvayli. Blincyto is used in a type of lymphoma but targets a different protein on diseased B cells, while Tecvayli binds to a protein called BCMA found on diseased cells in people with multiple myeloma.
Pfizer, AbbVie, Johnson & Johnson and Regeneron all are potential competitors, with antibody drugs targeting CD20 and CD3 in various stages of development.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify Biogen and Roche’s prior relationship on glofitamab.