Clinigen buys Novartis’ cancer drug Proleukin, eyes new combos

Novartis headquarters
Clinigen hopes to boost sales of the drug with new dosing and combination approaches. (Wikimedia Commons / Andrew / Flickr)

U.K.-based CRO Clinigen has bought the rights to Novartis’ Proleukin (aldesleukin) outside the U.S. as it looks to boost sales with new dosing and tie-ups with other drugs.

Neither company has shown any receipts for the sale of the interleukin 2 (IL-2) drug, which is approved in around 20 countries, mainly in kidney cancer and also in advanced forms of melanoma.

Clinigen, which has a market cap of more than $1 billion, says that buying Proleukin is “a good fit with the group’s current commercial medicines portfolio of products in the oncology and infectious disease therapy areas.” Back in 2010, the Swiss major sold U.S. rights for the drug to Prometheus Laboratories.

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According to date for Evaluate, global sales have been hovering at just $80 million over the past few years.

Clinigen said: “[We] will seek to revitalise sales of Proleukin by working with healthcare professionals to ensure its benefit to patients is well understood and by making the medicine available to those who need it through the group’s global distribution network for both licensed and unlicensed supply.”

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Shaun Chilton, group CEO of Clinigen, said: “This acquisition strengthens our offering in Commercial Medicines and brings our specialty pharma product portfolio to six. It demonstrates our strategy of acquiring global rights to assets with the aim of revitalising and returning them back to the broadest possible access, whilst also supporting their use in new and emerging treatment regimens.”

David Bryant, chief business officer, Clinigen, added: “Proleukin is an important medicine that has demonstrated complete responses in some patients, with evidence of cancer free survival over 15 years. We believe that its use in emerging treatment regimens will continue to help people fight cancer for years to come.”

Clinigen also reported year-end updates, showing sales were up by around 26% on a reported basis compared to last year.

“This is higher than the growth in gross profit due primarily to an increased level of pass through costs within the early access part of Unlicensed Medicines,” the company said.