GlaxoSmithKline, the UK-based pharmaceutical company has entered into a partnership agreement which will pay $4.23 billion to Germany-based Merck KGaA for cancer therapies for patients with metastatic non single cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Patients with advanced NSCLC produce too much amount of two proteins leading to cell growth in tumor. First is Programmed Death Ligand -1 or PD-L1 and second is Transforming Growth Factor Beta or TGF-B. Merck’s Therapy M7824 is a bifunctional antibody which targets both the TGF-B and PD-L1 pathway acting as immune checkpoints in the body.
Merck KGaA which is entirely unrelated to US based Merck & Co. will receive an upfront payment of $342.75 million from GSK under the terms of the deal. Merck KGaA will also be eligible for future milestone payments of 500 million euros along with 2.9 billion euro payment upon reaching commercial and approval milestones. The total value of the deal may go up to 3.7 billion euros.
The company stated that both the companies will be equally responsible for commercialization and development cost along with profits. The deal would help make Glaxo a global leader in next generation of immuno-oncology treatments for cancer and will set it against the US-based Merck’s Keytruda PD-L1 inhibitor.
Merck’s CEO Stefan Oschmann said that the deal will give the company necessary financial support. He admitted that the world of cancer treatments is rapidly expanding and a company as small as Merck cannot afford to go alone without the financial backing from a strong partner. The company has partnered with Pfizer to develop another immuno-oncology drug, Bavencio. The company said that it is open for other partnerships in the field for any late-stage molecule.
Oschmannn said that they are looking for partners with a lot of experience and scientific knowledge about disease biology, stronger market access and good regulatory standing. The company is open for partnerships with purely financial backers who will help in finance development. The CEO of the company calls this a risk –sharing approach in a competitive pharmaceuticals industry. He added that they are currently looking for partners for Merck’s experimental Evobrutinib drug.
Glaxo also expressed openness for further deals to bolster its oncology business. The company which oversaw the clinical development and commercial rollout of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Yervoy is also waiting for a possible market rollout of three key oncology treatments in next two years. The company in December 2018 bought drug maker Tesaro Inc. for $5.1b.