After repeated setbacks on the checkpoint front, Bristol-Myers scores a $625M payout from Merck to settle patent fracas

Giovanni Caforio, Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO

Bristol-Myers Squibb may keep losing to Keytruda on key franchise initiatives, but at least now it can share in Merck’s good fortunes. Bristol-Myers and Ono have agreed to set aside their patent dispute over the PD-1 checkpoint drug in exchange for $625 million in cash and a 6.5% royalty on sales for the next six years.

Then, after 2023, the two companies will take a 2.5% cut of the action for the following three years. Bristol-Myers gets 75% of the action and Ono takes home 25%.

This is a silver lining on an otherwise dark cloud for Bristol-Myers, which has experienced a series of painful setbacks on the checkpoint front after a number of analysts tapped it as the dominant player in the field. Just last night Bristol-Myers issued a late release saying that it was abandoning any plans for an accelerated approval of a combination of Opdivo and Yervoy for lung cancer, conceding the early lead for frontline use to Merck and Keytruda, including their plans to gain an approval for a combo with chemotherapy.

“Bristol-Myers Squibb and Ono’s agreement with Merck protects our scientific discoveries and validates the strong intellectual property rights we secured as the early innovators in the science of PD-1, a key mechanism in Immuno-Oncology that has proven to have transformational impact in cancer care,” says Bristol-Myers CEO Giovanni Caforio. “Today’s agreement is also a good decision for patients as it supports the continuation of ongoing research and maintains access to anti-PD-1 therapies for cancer patients around the world.”

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