Partnering News: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Lilly & More
A roundup of bio/pharmaceutical partnering news from: AstraZeneca/Scorpion Therapeutics; AstraZeneca/BenevolentAI; Pfizer/Biohaven Pharmaceuticals; Pfizer/BioNTech; and Lilly/Evotec.
AstraZeneca, Scorpion in $1.57-Bn “Undruggable” Drug Pact
AstraZeneca and Scorpion Therapeutics, a Boston-based oncology-focused company, have signed a pact to discover, develop and commercialize precision medicines against previously hard-to-target cancer proteins, in a deal worth up to $1.57 billion ($75 million upfront and up to $1.5 billion in milestones).
The collaboration focuses on a class of proteins called transcription factors, which control gene expression and can regulate cellular processes, including cell growth and survival. Many transcription factors have long been identified as important targets for new cancer treatments and drivers of disease, but have historically been considered “undruggable” using conventional drug-discovery approaches.
Under the collaboration, Scorpion will lead discovery and certain preclinical activities. AstraZeneca has the exclusive option to license global rights for up to three drug candidates. AstraZeneca would be responsible for development and commercialization activities globally following opt-in while Scorpion would retain the option to co-develop and co-promote up to two of these programs in the US under certain conditions, including if AstraZeneca exercises three license options.
Scorpion will receive an upfront cash payment of $75 million and is eligible to receive up to an additional $1.5 billion in the form of option fees and milestone payments as well as tiered royalties on net sales ranging from mid-single digit to low-double digits. In the event Scorpion opts-in to co-developing and co-promoting a nominated program, Scorpion will participate in the operating costs and be entitled to a proportionate share of the economics in the US, subject to certain adjustments.
AstraZeneca, BenevolentAI Expand Drug-Discovery Pact
AstraZeneca and BenevolentAI, a London-based clinical-stage artificial intelligence (AI) drug-discovery company, have expanded their AI-driven drug-discovery collaboration to add targets to focus on systemic lupus erythematosus and heart failure.
The three-year expansion includes an upfront payment, research funding, development milestone payments, and tiered royalties on future revenues. The expansion builds on the collaboration initiated in 2019 and adds systemic lupus erythematosus and heart failure to ongoing work to identify multiple targets in chronic kidney disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The collaboration has already achieved two major milestones, with the first targets added to AstraZeneca’s portfolio for both chronic kidney disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Pfizer, Biohaven Complete $1.24-Bn Deal for Migraine Drugs
Pfizer and Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company, the parent company of Biohaven Pharmaceuticals, a bio/pharmaceutical company, have completed a $1.24-billion licensing deal for the commercialization outside of the US of two migraine drugs, rimegepant, and zavegepant.
Pfizer made an upfront payment of $500 million, consisting of $150 million in cash and $350 million for a 3% equity stake in Biohaven. Biohaven is also eligible to receive up to $740 million in future milestones. In addition to the tiered double-digit royalties owed to Biohaven on net sales outside of the US, Pfizer will compensate Biohaven for the related royalties on net sales outside of the US owed under the company’s license and funding agreements with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Royalty Pharma, a New York-based bio/pharmaceutical company.
Biohaven will continue to lead research and development globally and retain rights to the US market.
Pfizer, BioNTech, in $450-M Pact for mRNA Shingles Vaccine
Pfizer and BioNTech have entered into a new research, development, and commercialization collaboration to develop an mRNA-based vaccine for the prevention of shingles (herpes zoster virus) in a deal worth up to $450 million ($225 million upfront and $225 million in milestones and additional payments).
This is the third collaboration between Pfizer and BioNTech in the infectious diseases field, following the influenza vaccine collaboration initiated in 2018 and the COVID-19 vaccine collaboration initiated in 2020.
Under the agreement, the companies will use an antigen technology identified by Pfizer’s scientists and BioNTech’s mRNA-platform technology used in the companies’ COVID-19 vaccine. The parties will share development costs. Clinical trials are planned to start in the second half of 2022. Pfizer will have rights to commercialize the potential vaccine on a global basis, with the exception of Germany, Turkey, and certain developing countries, where BioNTech will have commercialization rights. The companies will share gross profits from commercialization of any product.
Pfizer will pay BioNTech $225 million in upfront payments, including a cash payment of $75 million and an equity investment of $150 million. BioNTech is eligible to receive future regulatory and sales milestone payments of up to $200 million. BioNTech will pay Pfizer $25 million for the company’s antigen technology.
Lilly, Evotec in $1-Bn Drug-Discovery Pact
Evotec, a Hamburg, Germany-based drug-discovery and development company, has entered into a $1-billion drug-discovery collaboration with Eli Lilly and Company in the field of metabolic diseases with a focus on kidney diseases and diabetes.
Evotec will be responsible for the discovery of potential drug candidates for diabetes and chronic kidney diseases from targets identified by Lilly or by Evotec. Lilly reserves the right to select up to five programs developed within this partnership and to continue with any subsequent development, clinical validation, and commercialization.
The collaboration initially runs for a term of three years. In addition to an undisclosed upfront payment, Evotec will be eligible to receive success-based discovery development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments of up to $180 million per program, as well as tiered royalties on net sales of any products resulting from the collaboration, for a potential overall value up to $ 1 billion.