Roche is terminating its collaboration with biotechnology company Blueprint Medicine and handing back commercial rights to its lung cancer treatment Gavreto. The move comes weeks after the Swiss drugmaker took impairment charges worth 663 million Swiss francs, or about $706 million, to account for the falling sales forecasts for the drug.
Blueprint said Thursday the termination will be effective in February 2024, and the two companies will work to ensure continued patient access before Blueprint assumes full control. Blueprint said it will also seek to “advance and simplify the continued global commercialization and development of Gavreto.” The termination affects all commercial activities outside China, where Blueprint has signed a deal with CStone Pharmaceuticals.
Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2020, Gavreto is used to treat people with lung and thyroid cancer that has a specific mutation known as RET. In non-small cell lung cancer, RET mutations account for 1% to 2% of patients.
Gavreto had sales of 26 million Swiss francs in 2022, dwarfed by the biggest selling drugs in Roche’s oncology portfolio like Perjeta and Tecentriq, which each had sales of about 4 billion Swiss francs.
Roche first signed Blueprint to a collaboration nearly seven years ago, paying the biotech $45 million upfront and promising up to $965 million in downstream payments for up to five cancer drugs. The Swiss drugmaker followed up in 2020 with another deal specific to Gavreto that brought in another $675 million in cash and a $100 million equity investment.
That Gavreto deal gave Blueprint co-commercialization rights in the U.S. and Roche an exclusive license to market elsewhere in the world outside China.
Blueprint said the collaboration has yielded $1 billion in fees and cost-sharing from Roche. The termination won’t affect its revenue guidance, which includes $130 million to $140 million in sales from another cancer drug called Ayvakit. Between those revenues and existing cash and investments, Blueprint said it has “sufficient capital to enable the company to achieve a self-sustainable financial profile.”