Global Pharma Briefs: News from J&J, Merck KGaA, and MorphoSys

By Miranda Greenberg -

July 22, 2021

A roundup of news from Australia (J&J), Germany (Merck KGaA, MorphoSys), Japan (Meiji, Dong-A ST, Intas Pharmaceuticals), and the US (J&J, Kyria Therapeutics).

Australia

J&J Extends Innovation Partnering Office in Australia
Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Innovation has extended the J&J Innovation Partnering Office at Monash University's Clayton Campus in Melbourne, Australia in collaboration with the Victorian state government.

This joint initiative, [email protected], between J&J Innovation, the Victorian government, and Monash University will be extended for approximately two years through June 30, 2023. The agreement will allow [email protected] to continue connecting with the Victorian innovation ecosystem, accelerating innovative research, new product development, and global commercialization, as well as boost local job creation in Victoria.

[email protected] was originally launched in 2018 to provide support to researchers and companies in the Victorian life-science sector as part of the government's interest in advancing the medical technologies and pharmaceuticals sector.

Source: Johnson & Johnson


Germany

Merck KGaA Invests $319 M in New Research Center, Training
Merck KGaA plans to invest a total of EUR 270 million ($319 million) at its global headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany to build a new Translational Science Center for its healthcare business sector and a new learning center.

The company is investing EUR 200-million ($236-million) in the new Translational Science Center, which will be operational in 2025. It will offer space for more than 500 scientists who will conduct research in a variety of fields ranging from the identification of disease biomarkers to the development of targeted therapies. This investment includes a laboratory building covering more than 30,000 m2.

The company is also investing EUR 70 million ($83 million) in a new learning center to house training facilities for all vocational training occupations in one building. The building will create room for 50 employees from the Vocational Training department in order to prepare the company’s 600 apprentices for the workforce and their assignments within the company. Moreover, the learning center will be a location for advanced training at the company. The building is expected to be ready for occupancy in 2024.

The two construction projects are part of an overall EUR 1-billion investment ($1.2-billion) that Merck KGaA announced in March 2019 for its Darmstadt site for realization by 2025.

Source: Merck KGaA


MorphoSys Acquires Constellation Pharmaceuticals for $1.7 Bn
MorphoSys, a Munich, Germany-based bio/pharmaceutical company, has completed its $1.7-billion acquisition of Constellation Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based clinical-stage bio/pharmaceutical company developing therapeutics for cancers associated with abnormal gene expression.

Under the acquisition, Constellation is surviving as an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of MorphoSys. The total equity value of the transaction is approximately $1.7 billion.

In connection with completing its acquisition of Constellation Pharmaceuticals, MorphoSys has moved forward with a long-term strategic funding partnership with Royalty Pharma. Royalty Pharma has made a $1.425 billion upfront payment to MorphoSys, supporting the financing of the transaction with Constellation and development of the combined company’s pipeline. Royalty Pharma will also provide MorphoSys with access to up to $350 million in development funding bonds. With the completion of MorphoSys’ acquisition of Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Royalty Pharma will invest $100 million in a cash capital increase of MorphoSys under an authorization to exclude subscription rights of existing shareholders.

MorphoSys will remain headquartered in Munich, Germany, and will maintain a commercial and R&D presence in Boston, Massachusetts.

Source: MorphoSys


Japan

Meiji, Dong-A ST, Intas Pharmaceuticals in Pact for Biosimilar of J&J’s Stelara
Meiji Seika Pharma and Dong-A-ST, a Seoul, South Korea-based specialty healthcare company, have entered into an exclusive license agreement with Intas Pharmaceuticals, an Ahmedabad, India-headquartered pharmaceutical formulation development, manufacturing, and marketing company, to develop and commercialize DMB-3115, a proposed biosimilar to Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) Stelara (ustekinumab).

Stelara is a biologic indicated for the treatment of a number of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases and is one of J&J’s top-selling products with 2020 sales of $7.7 billion.

Under the agreement, Intas has been granted exclusive license rights to commercialize DMB-3115 globally, excluding Japan, South Korea, and certain Asian countries. Meiji and Dong-A ST will develop, manufacture and supply DMB-3115 to Intas and its global affiliates. In consideration of the license granted to Intas, Meiji and Dong-A ST will receive an upfront payment and are also eligible to receive developmental and sales milestones as well as profit share payments from Intas.

Meiji and Dong-A Socio Holdings, a parent company of Dong-A ST, entered into a strategic collaboration partnership agreement on biosimilar programs in September, 2011 and are currently co-developing DMB-3115. The Phase III multi-regional clinical trial of DMB-3115 is being conducted in patients with plaque psoriasis in Europe and the US.

Source: Meiji Seika Pharma


US

J&J Finalizes Opioid Settlement Agreement
Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and its US-based Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies have finalized a nationwide settlement agreement to resolve opioid-related claims and litigation against the company by states, cities, counties, and other subdivisions in the US.

As previously announced, the company will contribute up to $5 billion to the settlement, depending on the number of state and local governments that elect to opt into the agreement over the next several months (as reported on July 21, 2021). This national settlement agreement is designed to resolve the majority of litigation-based claims regarding the past sales of the company’s prescription opioid medications. The company no longer sells prescription opioid medications in the United States.

Source: Johnson & Johnson


Kriya Therapeutics Raises $100 M for Gene-Therapy Mfg Platforms
Kriya Therapeutics, a Redwood City, California-based company developing technologies and therapeutics in gene therapy, has raised $100-million in funding

Proceeds from the financing will be used to further develop Kriya’s core technology platforms, expand its therapeutic pipeline, and advance its current programs in metabolic disease, ophthalmology, and oncology.

Kriya is developing STRIPE (System to Realize Improved Production Efficiency), a manufacturing platform integrating advances in cell-line technology and upstream and downstream process. STRIPE is being developed at Kriya’s 51,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and can support simultaneous manufacturing of multiple products from early research through commercialization. The company’s full cGMP manufacturing infrastructure is expected to be on line this year (2021).

Kriya is developing its SIRVE (System for Intelligent Rational Vector Engineering) platform for de novo vector design, sequence modification and data analysis. SIRVE is deployed to advance Kriya’s gene-therapy programs and products with a goal of reducing immunogenicity and improving expression and packaging efficiency.

Source: Kriya Therapeutics