Taiho kicks off $130M Arcus deal with drug option; J&J allies with Merck KGaA to take diabetes drug to China
→ Japan’s Taiho Pharma has decided to go for an option to develop and commercialize an adenosine receptor antagonist program from Arcus Biosciences $RCUS, triggering a payday that could be worth up to $130 million for the Hayward, CA-based biotech if all milestones are met. Signed last September, the agreement gives Taiho — an Otsuka subsidiary specializing in oncology and a co-promoter of Merck’s Keytruda in Japan — rights to AB928 in Japan and other parts of Asia, but not China. Meanwhile, Terry Rosen and his team at Arcus is gearing up for a Phase I/Ib program for the same drug in the US and Australia.
→ Johnson & Johnson $JNJ is teaming up with Merck KGaA to help canvas China for its diabetes drug Invokana. The German pharma partner should be a boon to J&J, considering its extensive background in the Chinese diabetes market. J&J’s Xian Janssen subsidiary will share sales of the drug with Merck KGaA, and together do development and commercialization. In China, J&J’s Invokana will go up against AstraZeneca’s Farxiga and Lilly/Boehringer Ingelheim’s Jardiance.
→ Novartis $NVS has inked a deal with a French CAR-T manufacturer that could start making its drug Kymriah in 2019. That would add one more facility to Novartis’ existing manufacturing sites in the US and Germany. The French maker, called Cell for Cure, will employ the same technology and process as those used at the New Jersey site, the companies said in a statement. The Cell for Cure site is in Les Ulis in the suburbs of Paris.