Trans-Pacific power player Everest jumps on mRNA vaccine deal with Providence, paying $100M upfront to tap platform play
Everest is jumping aboard the Covid-19 mRNA vaccine train.
While China has used other vaccine technologies to vaccinate its population, companies are starting to explore the use of mRNA vaccines in Asian markets. Everest is now the latest company to focus on the Chinese market in a deal with Canadian biotech Providence Therapeutics.
As part of the deal, Providence will get $100 million upfront in cash, combined with an additional up to $400 million in profit-sharing on the Covid-19 vaccines and milestone payments on collaborative and additional products.
Everest will receive the rights to Providence’s mRNA Covid-19 vaccines in different Asian markets such as China, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.
This is not the first run that Everest has made into the Asian markets using Western drugs. Two years ago, Everest paid $65 million to grab Asian rights to Immunomedics’ antibody-drug conjugate in April 2019 — a record at the time for Chinese biotechs in-licensing Western drugs.
Providence’s lead mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, known as PTX-COVID19-B, is currently being studied in Phase II clinical trials against the original strain of SARS-CoV-2. So far, vaccination has resulted in producing neutralizing antibodies against the original strain and other variants, such as Alpha, Beta and Delta, according to Everest.
Everest will gain rights to any Covid-19 vaccine candidates designed for specific variants — and those candidates are in preclinical testing, according to a statement released by Everest.
Everest and Providence will also enter into an equal global collaboration where they will develop two additional products. Global rights will be jointly owned.
Everest also will have the opportunity to create and develop additional products using Providence’s mRNA platform. This would allow Everest to scale production and distribution to a local scale, thus improving access to consumers.
“This transaction structure with equity consideration and profit-sharing helps to align ongoing corporate interests between Everest and Providence, fostering future collaboration for innovative mRNA vaccine development across a range of disease areas,” said Providence CEO Brad Sorenson in a statement.
“Gaining exclusive access to a unique and clinically-validated mRNA technology platform through this strategic collaboration redoubles our commitment to accelerate global pharmaceutical innovation and deliver best-in-class medicines to people in China and other parts of Asia. The platform will enhance our discovery efforts and will allow us to explore the promise of mRNA therapies for patients across a variety of key disease areas,” said Everest CEO Kerry Blanchard.
As this deal moves forward, it could establish Everest as a key player in the Asian mRNA realm — but there will be stiff competition for a piece of the mRNA vaccine pie. China’s Abogen shocked the biotech world last month with a $700 million Series C round, and BioNTech and Fosun are doing clinical tests of BioNTech’s vaccine in China with Fosun paying $50 million upfront.
All this to say, there’s a lot of investment in mRNA — let’s see how it will pan out.