Eisai strikes creative deal to finance Ph3 cancer drug studies

Japan's Eisai has struck an unusual deal with SFJ Pharmaceuticals to gain its financial backing for late-stage studies of an experimental cancer drug. SFJ will pay all the money needed for the trials in exchange for potential milestone payments as the drug progresses in Phase III. And Eisai will hang on to the marketing rights on the drug.

Eisai's release was short on the financial details, with no dollar amounts tied to either SFJ's gamble or the amount it stands to garner. But Eisai heralded the pact as a model for future deals as it brings in extra funds to back clinical development for its pipeline products. Eisai earlier struck a development deal with Quintiles on early-stage cancer studies.

The focus this time is on E7080 (lenvatinib), which is being tested for thyroid cancer. Eisai describes the therapy as "an anti-angiogenic agent that inhibits tyrosine kinase of the VEGF receptor, VEGFR2, and a number of other types of kinase involved in angiogenesis and tumor proliferation."

Pleasanton, CA-based SFJ--which is solely devoted to quickening the pace on new drug approvals in Japan--is backed by Abingworth, Clarus and FinTech Global Capital, which provided $45 million in a Series A round in 2009.

- here's the Eisai release