Blackstone finalizes R&D pact with Alnylam as part of earlier $2 billion investment
Back in April, Blackstone announced a massive, multibillion dollar investment in Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, but not all the R&D details were finalized. On Monday, we got a glimpse at how some of those details ended up looking.
The newly-cemented R&D agreement calls for $150 million to be paid to Alnylam for the development of two pipeline products, vutrisiran and ALN-AGT. $70 million will go toward supporting Phase III vutrisiran trials in ATTR amyloidosis-related cardiomyopathy, while the other $80 million will advance Phase II and III studies for ALN-AGT in hypertension therapy.
Monday’s cash is part of the $2 billion funding Blackstone Life Sciences doled out to Alnylam’s RNAi machinery a few months ago. The deal was ultimately structured in four parts: $1 billion for royalties on inclisiran, up to $750 million in loans and $100 million in equity investment, in addition to Monday’s $150 million for the R&D fund.
Alnylam COO Yvonne Greenstreet also said at the time Blackstone will receive development and regulatory milestones over 2 to 4 years on both programs and a 1% royalty on worldwide vutrisiran sales.
Inclisiran is currently under review by the FDA and expected to be approved at some point this year. The drug works similarly to PCSK9 inhibitors patients currently take to treat high cholesterol, but rather than block the protein, it uses RNA interference to prevent the body from producing it. Cortellis analysts have predicted peak sales to reach $1.16 billion.
Shortly after the April deal was disclosed, vutrisiran also received fast track designation from the FDA in a separate indication — polyneuropathy of hATTR amyloidosis. At the time, Blackstone hinted it would help support those trials but not receive royalties. Phase III results for this study are expected in early 2021.
Blackstone’s investment comes as part of the largest-ever life sciences fund, in which it raised a total of $4.6 billion. The deal with Alnylam makes up the biggest chunk of that fund. Ex-Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt, who now works as a senior advisor at Blackstone, joined Alnylam’s board in February but the investment firm said at the time he wasn’t involved in the transaction.
Sanofi and Alnylam had worked together previously, but they cut off ties in May 2019. The two broke it off as Alnylam built on an existing collaboration with Regeneron, netting Alnylam $1 billion-plus. Regeneron acquired an exclusive relationship with Alnylam on treatments for eye and CNS diseases, while Alnylam got access to Regeneron’s genetics research.
Thus far, Blackstone has also committed $350 million to Reata on its late-stage work for Alport syndrome treatment, and another $337 million to Medtronic for diabetes R&D.