Deals, Licensing

Novartis dispatches two more cancer drug castoffs to a partner in China

Novartis is sending two more of its oncology castoffs to a China biotech.

The pharma giant has out-licensed global rights to two of its cancer drugs — the AKT inhibitors afuresertib and uprosertib — to the Shanghai-based company Laekna. Novartis, in turn, picked them up in its big swap with GSK a few years ago, handing over vaccines in exchange for GSK’s late-stage cancer pipeline and products.

The companies did not disclose the terms.

This isn’t their first deal. Novartis handed over a CYP17 inhibitor (CFG920), an oral androgen inhibitor to treat prostate cancer, in a pact they struck with the Chinese company last year. 

Just days ago, Novartis also out-licensed global rights to a cancer drug with a troubling history. Adlai Nortye, based in Hangzhou, picked up their PI3K drug buparlisib — after a group of scientists published a report in The Lancet that concluded the drug’s safety profile “does not support its further development” in breast cancer. 

Chinese companies have been scooping up regional and global rights to all the drugs they can lay their hands on. And Novartis evidently likes to facilitate the trend with its own unwanted assets.

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Biotech Investment Analyst
SV Health Investors Boston, MA
Director, Program Management
Contrafect Corporation New York, NY
Director, Translational Sciences
Cadent Therapeutics Cambridge, MA

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