Novartis hands off another PhIII drug to Array

That big drug swap between Novartis ($NVS) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) is once again proving to be a boon to Array BioPharma ($ARRY). Array saw its shares spike more than 40% on Friday after the company said that Novartis is handing back rights to the Phase III BRAF inhibitor encorafenib, not long after it also scooped up the rights to binimetinib. Novartis remains on the hook for much of the late-stage work while Array is required to make only a "de minimis" payment. Array now has to find a partner for global development and European commercialization. "Acquiring worldwide rights to encorafenib, an innovative late-stage oncology product, represents a tremendous opportunity for Array," said Array CEO Ron Squarer. "There are currently eleven active encorafenib clinical trials, including the Phase III COLUMBUS trial in which encorafenib is being studied in combination with binimetinib for BRAF+ melanoma patients. With rights to both encorafenib and binimetinib, Array would enhance its position to broadly develop and commercialize each product, as well as this MEK/BRAF combination, which may have differentiating advantages when compared to available therapies." Release

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