Roche, Biogen handing over $470M in cash to bag two drug programs from Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bristol-Myers Squibb has forged a pair of separate pacts with Roche and Biogen to outlicense two drugs, grabbing a whopping $470 million upfront for the deals.

Biogen gets control of BMS-986168, an anti-eTau compound in clinical development for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, for $300 million upfront and $410 million in milestones. And Roche gets BMS-986089, an anti-myostatin Adnectin in development for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Roche is paying $170 million plus $205 million in milestones.

Thomas Lynch, BMS

Biogen is also assuming the obligations Bristol-Myers took on when it acquired iPierian in 2014 for $175 million in cash and $550 million in milestones. That deal focused heavily on the tau program, along with Bristol’s interest in pursuing it as a combo for Alzheimer’s — which oddly arrived months after Bristol’s decision to retreat from neurosciences work in 2013. But in recent years Bristol’s interest in Alzheimer’s has faded, while Biogen has been exciting the industry with early-stage data on aducanumab, an amyloid therapy.

The deals total about $1.1 billion, plus prospective royalties.

Roche is getting its myostatin drug in Phase I, according to a spokesperson at Bristol-Myers.Bristol originally acquired it way back in 2007 with the $505 million deal to buy Adnexus, which originally developed Adnectins.

Biogen says it will now launch the Phase II studies for its drug in both Alzheimer’s disease as well as PSP. Notes Baird’s Brian Skorney:

Addition of BMS-986168 expands Biogen’s portfolio in Alzheimer’s, which already includes anti-tau and anti-Aβ (aducanumab, BAN2401 with Eisai) programs and BACE inhibitor E2609, through a collaboration with Eisai.

“Biogen aims to be a leader in Alzheimer’s disease and we are building a pipeline with multiple approaches to address the complex, devastating process of neurodegeneration,” said Michael Ehlers, executive vice president, research & development. “Based on encouraging safety and efficacy data, we believe BMS-986168 is a promising anti-tau candidate that may represent the next wave of medicines for Alzheimer’s disease as well as the first real answer for progressive supranuclear palsy.”

Biogen has been under intense pressure to add new drugs to its pipeline, which is concentrated on neurological conditions. Roche, though, has been coming through with a variety of major league approvals, including the recent OK for Ocrevus, and has been choosy about what it wants to add to the pipeline.

Bristol-Myers, meanwhile, has been shaking up its R&D group in recent months, after the fiasco with the checkpoint Opdivo as it slipped behind Merck’s Keytruda on non-small cell lung cancer. Bristol-Myers brought in a new R&D chief, Thomas Lynch, and has been selectively looking for ways to economize as it looks to make a comeback in a field that it helped to pioneer.

“Licensing these assets to Biogen and Roche will enable Bristol-Myers Squibb to prioritize the other promising opportunities for asset development that have advanced across our diversified portfolio,” said Mike Burgess, head of Cardiovascular, Fibrosis and Immunoscience Development, Bristol-Myers Squibb. “We recognize the significant unmet medical needs for patients with PSP and with DMD, and are pleased to put the future development of these compounds into the hands of Biogen and Roche, who both have strong capabilities, focus and leadership in neurodegenerative and rare diseases.”

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Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
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