Bayer looks to protect blockbuster Eylea franchise with $130M Regeneron pact

Regeneron's George Yancopoulos

Bayer is gambling up to $130 million to lay claim to half the ex-U.S. profits that may lie ahead for one of Regeneron's ($REGN) next-gen combination eye drugs, a successor to their blockbuster Eylea franchise. 

Already partnered on Eylea and another combination therapy for wet, age-related macular degeneration, this new pact will center on a mix of the angiopoietin2 (Ang2) antibody nesvacumab and the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) trap aflibercept (Eylea), currently in two mid-stage studies for wet age-related macular degeneration as well as diabetic macular edema.

Bayer is paying $50 million upfront while committing to $80 million in milestones. The collaboration is designed to give Bayer ex-U.S. commercialization rights, splitting the profits, while Regeneron keeps 100% of the U.S. market to itself.

For Bayer, it's a chance to maintain a crucial relationship that has seen Eylea revenue swell into the billions. Regeneron reported $2.68 billion in Eylea sales in 2015--a whopping 54% increase over 2014--as it claimed market share in the diabetic macular edema (DME) field from Roche's Lucentis. New data, though, may provide Lucentis with a bigger edge in that market as sales of Eylea slow.

For Regeneron, the deal marks another step forward in its global partnering strategy, which has been aging big dividends. Sanofi has built a significant minority stake in the big biotech, happy to collaborate on a variety of fronts as Regeneron's R&D team under Chief Scientific Officer Dr. George Yancopoulos have built a string of blockbuster franchises.

According to clinicaltrials.org, Regeneron and Sanofi have also been partnered on the same combination in a Phase Ib study for cancer, and the literature cites nesvacumab's role in targeting angiogenesis to thwart the growth and spread of cancer.

"Our collaboration with Bayer has been extremely successful to date, as we work together to combat vision loss around the world. Vision loss can often have devastating consequences to an individual's quality of life," said Yancopoulos. "This new agreement reflects our shared commitment to being leaders in ophthalmology and to improving anatomical and visual outcomes for patients with retinal eye diseases."

- here's the release

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