Basilea tosses an oncology drug back to Merck, doubling down on antibiotics in revamp
Swiss biotech Basilea Pharmaceutica has shed one of its last pipeline ties with oncology as it makes a move to concentrate on antibiotics in a race to profitability next year. And they’ve followed up on that with news of a Phase III success they believe can help expand prospects for a key franchise player.
The company put out word on Monday that the execs are handing rights to the FGFR inhibitor derazantinib back to Merck by the end of this year as it shuts down clinical work on the tumor checkpoint controller lisavanbulin. They’re still working on partnering that out along with their TTK/PLK1-inhibitor BAL0891 and preclinical oncology assets.
Basilea $BSLN decided to revamp its R&D work several months ago, saying they were carefully focused on a Phase III for ceftobiprole — a fifth-generation cephalosporin sold by Basilea in Europe as Zevtera — for bacterial bloodstream infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus.
Duke University’s Thomas Holland heralded that success today, noting:
Complicated Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections are common and associated with high morbidity and significant mortality and available antibiotic treatment options are limited, especially when methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is involved. The ERADICATE study provides strong support for the efficacy and safety of ceftobiprole in complicated SAB.
In going the antibiotics route and turning its back on oncology, Basilea is ditching one of the hottest arenas in drug R&D for a field that has proven bitterly disappointing for a host of players. But Basilea believes this is the best way for the 22-year-old Roche spinout to cross the line into profitability as the bear market rips up biotech stocks. And they plan to keep working on deals for what remains in the oncology arena.
“Our broad partnering outreach has resulted, as intended, in discussions on a variety of possible partnering structures,” says CFO Adesh Kaul. “We concluded that entering into separate transactions for our oncology assets would generate most long-term value. With regard to derazantinib, the changing competitive landscape and the evolving clinical data from our open-label studies led us to conclude that a transaction could not be closed at the terms and within the timelines required. We believe that based on the partnering progress and our portfolio decisions we are now well on track to ensure that Basilea generates sustainable positive operating cash flow and profits as of 2023.”