Clovis bets up to $420M on targeted cancer drug

Clovis Oncology CEO Patrick Mahaffy

After reportedly striking out in an effort to find a buyer, Clovis Oncology ($CLVS) has struck up a deal of its own, agreeing to buy Italy's Ethical Oncology Science (EOS) and its mid-stage targeted cancer drug lucitanib for up to $420 million.

Under the deal, Clovis will hand over $200 million up front for the U.S. and Japanese rights to the dual-selective inhibitor, paying $190 million in stock and $10 million in cash. EOS is up for $65 million if lucitanib picks up FDA approval, plus another $155 million in long-term milestone payments. EOS had already signed over European and rest-of-world rights to Servier, and now Clovis is entitled to up to $470 million in milestones from its inherited partner, in addition to royalties on its Servier's eventual lucitanib sales.

In exchange, Clovis gets an oral inhibitor of FGF and VEGF receptors that has shown promise in breast, renal cell and thyroid cancers. Lucitanib is ready for Phase II, and Clovis wants to start off chasing FGF-aberrant breast cancer and metastatic squamous non-small cell lung cancer, believing the drug's ability to target two relevant tumor growth pathways will pay off in efficacy. In tandem, Servier is set to start enrollment on a Phase II study testing the drug as a monotherapy in patients with advanced breast cancer.

Back in September, rumor had it Clovis was fishing for a buyout deal of around $2.2 billion, but, finding little interest, the company decided to pack it in and go at it alone. Now, the Colorado biotech can add another promising cancer drug to its stable of compounds, CEO Patrick Mahaffy said, and lucitanib joins the PARP inhibitor rucaparib, now in Phase II, and the early-stage CO-1686, an EGFR-targeting lung cancer drug.

"It is highly consistent with our focus on developing targeted therapies that provide meaningful benefit to specific patient populations," Mahaffy said in a statement. "We are extremely encouraged with lucitanib's 50% response rate seen to date in heavily pre-treated targeted patients, and we intend to develop it aggressively in collaboration with our partner Servier."

EOS is a Sofinnova portfolio company, and the French VC was a seed investor back at the company's 2006 inception, when three Novuspharma vets reunited after selling their old company to Cell Therapeutics ($CTIC) for $235 million.

- read the announcement