Helsinn, Mei-Pharma Sign $469 Million Drug Development Pact

Helsinn, a Lugano, Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company focused on cancer-care products, and MEI Pharma, a San Diego, California-based oncology company, have formed a drug-development pact worth up to $469 million for pracinostat, a drug candidate for treating acute myeloid leukemia and other potential indications. The deal is expected to advance pracinostat into Phase III clinical development and expand its use into additional indications, including high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

Under the agreement, Helsinn will get exclusive worldwide rights, including manufacturing and commercialization rights, and will be responsible for funding the global development of the drug. In return, MEI Pharma will receive near-term payments of $20 million, comprised of a $15-million upfront payment and a $5-million payment upon dosing of the first patient in the upcoming Phase III study. MEI Pharma will also be eligible to receive up to $444 million in potential development, regulatory and sales-based milestone payments, along with additional tiered royalty payments in selected territories. In a related transaction, Helsinn will make a $5 million equity investment in MEI Pharma.

In addition, Helsinn and MEI Pharma will collaborate to explore an optimal dosing regimen of pracinostat in combination with azacitidine for treating high-risk MDS. The Phase III clinical study is scheduled to start in the first half of 2017.

This transaction has been approved by the boards of both companies.

Source: Helsinn

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