Deals, Licensing

Going deeper into the ezcema game, Novartis orchestrates $1.1B deal for a MorphoSys/Galapagos drug

A busy business development team at Novartis has made dermatology the focus of their latest billion-dollar deal.

The chosen drug is MOR106, an IL-17C monoclonal antibody developed by the partnership between MorphoSys $MOR and Galapagos $GLPG. In exchange for giving up all development and marketing rights, the duo will be splitting $111 million (€95 million) upfront and penciling in potential milestone payments totaling $1 billion (€850 million).

This will be the second atopic dermatitis drug in Novartis’ pipeline, adding to ZPL389, the Phase II ezcema treatment it acquired in the Ziarco buyout late 2016.

Simon Moroney

With Novartis $NVS picking up the tab for all future R&D, manufacturing and commercialization costs, MorphoSys and Galapagos will remain involved in both the ongoing early-stage trials and any future trials to support development of MOR106 in this indication.

The atopic dermatitis arena, of course, is not short of big pharma rivals looking to score their own blockbusters, from Pfizer’s Eucrisa to Regeneron and Sanofi’s Dupixent, the latter of which has been billed as a $5 billion opportunity.

While Novartis is trusting the biotechs with the development work on that end, it’s going to explore additional indications for itself as well. If that all works out, the royalties will range from low-teens to low-twenties.

“This collaboration with Novartis will enable us to accelerate and broaden the development of MOR106 beyond our current focus on atopic dermatitis and to exploit the potential of MOR106 to the maximum. Data from preclinical models and expression analyses suggest that the target of MOR106 might be involved in other diseases, which justifies expanding the development program,” said MorphoSys CEO Simon Moroney in a statement.


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