J&J buys into Bristol-Myers cardiovascular disease program

Bristol-Myers has run nine early-phase trials of the drug in healthy volunteers and renal disease patients over the past few years. (Bristol-Myers Squibb)

Johnson & Johnson has bought into Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Factor XIa inhibitor program. The deal gives J&J a stake in the development and potential commercialization of anticoagulants including phase 2-ready secondary stroke candidate BMS-986177.

J&J is paying an upfront fee and committing to milestones and royalties of undisclosed size to get its claws into the candidate. That done, Bristol-Myers and J&J will both contribute to the development and commercialization of oral thrombolytic agent BMS-986177, splitting any costs and profits they rack up along the way. The agreement also covers other FXIa inhibitors.

BMS-986177 is the near-term focus, though. Bristol-Myers has run nine early-phase trials of the drug in healthy volunteers and renal disease patients over the past few years, bringing it to the point it is ready to move forward in another indication: secondary stroke prevention.

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A phase 2 trial of BMS-986177 in patients who have previously suffered a stroke is due to start in the second half of the year. Beyond that, Bristol-Myers and J&J see potential applications of the asset in a host of other thrombotic conditions, such as coronary artery disease, stroke and peripheral artery disease. The goal is to dial down the risk of vascular events without causing patients to bleed.

The breadth of applications open to BMS-986177 underlies Bristol-Myers’ decision to take the rare step of partnering an early-phase asset with a Big Pharma peer. 

“We knew we wanted to partner this asset because this asset has a whole range of potential indications that are complicated to develop,” Christoph Koenen, head of cardiovascular development at Bristol-Myers, told Bloomberg. “[J&J brings] extensive knowledge in the space of both anticoagulation as well as cardiovascular disease, and on the other hand shares our ambition level when it comes to the potential benefit this asset can bring to patients.” 

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