BMS writes off Exelixis' lead cancer drug

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Exelixis are breaking up their partnership on the late-stage cancer drug XL184. BMS is handing over all its rights to the drug along with $17 million in the breakup, which comes on top of $240 million BMS has already paid for XL184 and a second cancer program.

Exelixis CEO George Scangos told Reuters that the two companies couldn't come to an agreement on an appropriate clinical program for XL184, the developer's lead drug. The decision "really does reflect a need for both companies to prioritize their portfolios."

"XL184 is our most advanced compound, the data are encouraging, and we need to rapidly develop the compound in indications justified by the data, including medullary thyroid cancer, glioblastoma, and potentially some of the major tumor types being evaluated in the randomized discontinuation trial," said the CEO in a statement.

Scangos also told the wire service that the company has ample funds to keep the drug in clinical trials. A Phase III trial is slated to get underway in glioblastoma later in the year, with pivotal data expected in the first half of 2011. Early-stage data on XL184 in five tumor types is due out in November.

- check out the Exelixis release
- here's the story from Reuters