Clovis strikes 3B deal to move into radiopharmaceuticals

Clovis Oncology has paid $12 million for rights to FAP-targeted radiopharmaceuticals in development at 3B Pharmaceuticals. The deal gives Clovis the ex-Europe rights to a cancer candidate that is set to enter the clinic in the second half of next year.

In return for the $12 million upfront, plus milestones, Clovis has bagged rights to a peptide-targeted radionuclide therapy in most countries outside of 3B’s home region of Europe. The therapy is aimed at FAP, a target expressed in many epithelial cancers including most tumors of the breast and lung. Clovis will oversee a global clinical development program for the FAP asset.

Clovis, which is yet to turn PARP inhibitor Rubraca into a commercial success, has fully bought into the idea that radiopharmaceuticals can improve outcomes in a range of tumor types. 

“Targeted radiopharmaceutical therapy represents a next frontier in oncology drug development, with potential application across multiple tumor types,” Clovis CEO Patrick Mahaffy said in a statement. “In particular, FAP represents a very compelling target given its overexpression across numerous tumor types and limited expression in healthy tissue.” 

Clovis and 3B will also collaborate on a discovery program covering three additional targets. 3B will handle discovery activities and hand over management to Clovis once a lead molecule is identified. Clovis will have the full global rights to the three programs that follow the FAP candidate down the pipeline. 

The early-stage nature of the programs means the deal is unlikely to solve Clovis’ current problems. Clovis won FDA approval of Rubraca late in 2016, teeing it up to compete with AstraZeneca’s Lynparza for the ovarian cancer market. The resulting fight has been one-sided. Lynparza sales hit $283 million in the second quarter. Sales of Rubraca totaled $33 million. 

Clovis’ failure to generate significant Rubraca sales is putting pressure on its business. The biotech posted a net loss of $120 million in the second quarter, causing it to end the period with $316 million in cash and available-for-sale securities. Clovis plans to reduce its cash burn.