Incyte and Bristol-Myers Squibb/Flexus are set to go to war in the courts over claims that a former scientist stole information around an oncology medication at the heart of the Big Pharma’s next big venture into cancer.
According to a piece in the Delaware News Journal, a trial is scheduled for next October after being dragged through legal skirmishes for years.
The allegations center around claims from Incyte that scientist Jordan Fridman, its former director of pharmacology who left the company a few years back, spilled secrets around its IDO med to the small, preclinical startup Flexus.
Flexus was then, back in 2015, bought out by Bristol-Myers Squibb for as much as $1.25 billion, to get its hands on that very IDO drug—one that could become part of a new class of cancer-fighting medicines.
Incyte is now in a race to market with BMS for this new class with its epacadostat, but BMS, through Fridman, has been given an artificial running start, according to a lawsuit filed in Delaware Superior Court and reported by the NJ.
Fridman, who is not named as a defendant, left for Flexus a year before the BMS buyout. In court documents, Incyte officials claim the he “colluded with Flexus founders Juan Jaen and Terry Rosen to take advantage of the closely guarded trade secrets he grabbed on his way out the door,” the NJ reports.
It wants damages from Flexus Biosciences’ two founders and the company itself that could top $2 billion.
“We are saying, ‘Pay us the money you are making on the knowledge you took’,” Incyte attorney Michael Kelly, chair of the Wilmington law firm McCarter & English, told the NJ. “For me, it’s a slammus dunkus case. We got ‘em.”
This comes after topline data were posted by Incyte at ASCO back in May, which the biotech saw some positive responses as it eyes future approvals across a range of cancers.
In non-small cell lung cancer and bladder cancer, the combo of its IDO med with Merck's PD-1 blocker Keytruda achieved an ORR of 35%, all of which were partial responses.
In head and neck cancer and renal cancer patients, the combo managed a 31% and 30% response rate, respectively, with three patients showing complete clearance of their tumors. BMS is testing its drug across several early-to-midstage tests, including lung cancer.
None of the companies are officially commenting on the report or the legal case.