Agios offloads oncology unit to Servier in $1.8B deal, zeroes in on genetically defined diseases

Agios Pharmaceuticals’ roots are in cancer drug development, but it’s passing that baton to Servier as it doubles down on its programs in genetically defined diseases, including a drug it’s developing for noncancerous blood diseases. The deal will see $1.8 billion changing hands upfront, but the deal could reach $2 billion in value if vorasidenib, a clinical-stage asset, hits certain goals.

Servier will pick up Agios’ oncology stable and associated employees, Agios said in the statement. That includes Tibsovo, a targeted treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), as well as co-commercialization duties for Bristol Myers Squibb-partnered Idhifa, another targeted AML med. Tibsovo, developed for cancers with IDH mutations, is approved to treat relapsed or refractory AML and newly diagnosed AML in older patients or those who are too frail for chemotherapy. It is in two phase 3 combination trials studying it in newly diagnosed AML and previously treated bile duct cancer and myelodysplastic syndrome.

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The deal also covers Agios’ clinical candidates, including vorasidenib, a dual inhibitor of mutated IDH1 and IDH2 proteins, currently in phase 3 for low-grade glioma—a type of slow-growing brain tumor—with IDH mutations. Servier will also snag AG-270, a MAT2A inhibitor in development for patients with MTAP-deleted non-small cell lung cancer and pancreatic cancer; AG-636, a DHODH inhibitor; and earlier-stage oncology research programs.

Agios will reap 5% royalties on the U.S. sales of Tibsovo until the leukemia drug loses exclusivity, as well as 15% in royalties on vorasidenib from its first sale through loss of exclusivity, according to a statement.

Jackie Fouse
Agios CEO Jackie Fouse, Ph.D.
(Agios Pharmaceuticals)

“The strategic acquisition of Agios’ oncology business, including its precision medicine portfolio and pipeline, is aligned with our ambition to become a recognized player in oncology and further supports our commitment to provide innovative treatments to cancer patients with unmet medical needs. It is a key step for the Servier Group as it will significantly strengthen our position in the U.S. and reinforce our R&D capabilities in oncology,” said Olivier Laureau, president of Servier, in the statement. “We look forward to welcoming the experienced Agios oncology teams to Servier following the closing.”

As its oncology unit moves to a new home, Agios will focus its energies on programs like mitapivat, a treatment it’s testing in noncancerous blood disorders like thalassemia and pyruvate kinase (PK) deficiency. Earlier this month, mitapivat made the grade in a phase 3 study, giving Agios some of the data it needs to file for approval in PK deficiency in 2021. If it secures U.S. and EU approvals next year, it expects to launch the drug in 2022.

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Beyond mitapivat, Agios’ pared-down pipeline will include AG-946, a clinical-stage treatment that activates both mutated and wild-type PK-R enzymes, along with earlier-stage programs aimed at anemia, myopathy, retinal diseases and diseases of inborn errors of metabolism.

“The result of a deliberative strategic review, this decision reflects the progress we have made understanding and harnessing the science and promise of PK activation and captures the full value of our oncology assets,” said Agios CEO Jackie Fouse, Ph.D., in the statement. “With mitapivat poised to become a new potential treatment option for patients with pyruvate kinase (PK) deficiency, thalassemia and sickle cell disease and with a rich pipeline based on our pioneering leadership in PK activation and cellular metabolism, Agios’ near- and long-term future is filled with significant value-generating catalysts.”

The deal is the latest move in Servier’s play to become a “recognized player in oncology.” In March, the French pharma expanded a partnership with off-the-shelf CAR-T player Cellectis, and one month later it snapped up Symphogen, a Danish cancer biotech, along with its antibody technology.