MyoKardia reclaims US royalty rights to heart drugs, completing conscious uncoupling from Sanofi
In January, MyoKardia disclosed that Sanofi was walking away from their heart drug partnership forged in 2014. On Thursday, the San Francisco-based biotech said it had regained the US royalty rights to two products from the French drugmaker for $50 million upfront.
MyoKardia $MYOK will also pay an additional $30 million next year for the rights to the experimental drugs: mavacamten and MYK-224. Under the terms of the former deal with Sanofi $SNY, the Parisian company was eligible to receive tiered royalties ranging from 5% to 10% on US sales of the two drugs.
MyoKardia managed to get a good price for the rights, “which appears to be the result of Sanofi being a motivated seller (as opposed to Sanofi having concerns about the mavacamten market opportunity),” Credit Suisse analysts wrote in a note. “We spoke with MYOK management who reported there were several other parties who tried to obtain the royalty rights, including another party who reportedly had a significantly higher bid.”
MyoKardia’s lead drug, mavacamten, is expected to break new ground in heart disease — a field monopolized by large pharmaceutical companies largely due to the long, arduous and expensive trials that are commonplace in heart drug development. Unlike other developers focusing on common heart disorders, MyoKardia’s treatment is also targeting a so-far untapped condition — obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy — in which a heart protein mutation forces the organ to squeeze more, thickening heart muscles and creating a cascade of consequences that can culminate in death.
In the second tranche of the drug’s Phase II trial in a small group of patients reported in March, the company said its low dose approach was largely successful across a crop of endpoints, except one for peak VO2 (exercise capacity measured by an increase in oxygen consumption). Last June, MyoKardia launched its keenly anticipated pivotal trial for the drug — and on Thursday brought forward its expected readout to the second quarter of next year, from the previously forecasted second half of 2020.
MyoKardia’s approach to research is to develop drugs for genetically defined patient groups, which is also reflected in its second program, MYK-491, under development for dilated cardiomyopathy. The Sanofi partnership involved the development of up to three programs through discovery and into clinical development for the treatment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). In January, MyoKardia regained the global rights to all the programs under the research and collaboration agreement with Sanofi, which will not be extended beyond the initial research term, which ended on December 31, 2018.
The price MyoKardia paid for the US royalty rights to mavacamten (and MYK-224) is right, given the $3 billion-plus opportunity estimated for the drug in obstructive and nonobstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, BMO Capital Markets analysts wrote in a note.
Social image: Shutterstock