Amgen commits $50M-plus in 3-way deal to expand cardiovascular drug pipeline

Amgen ($AMGN) continued its deal spree today with a three-way collaboration, in-licensing U.S. rights to Servier's heart drug Procoralan (ivabradine)--approved in Europe but not in the U.S.--along with a second, mid-stage cardiovascular drug while dealing out the European rights to Servier on a heart-failure drug now on the threshold of Phase III studies.

Amgen is paying $50 million upfront on the ivabradine deal, but is leaving the rest of the terms for the two other drug programs under lock and key. Servier gained a European approval for ivabradine back in 2005, but never pulled off a U.S. approval. Amgen will now take the lead on that project while expanding its cardiovascular pipeline with S38844, now in mid-stage studies.

Servier, meanwhile, gets the European rights to omecamtiv mecarbil, which is designed to improve heart contractions by activating cardiac myosin. Amgen recently expanded its licensing deal with Cytokinetics ($CYTK) for the treatment to include Japan in a $75 million deal. Amgen did that deal as part of its 2013 New Year's resolution to swiftly expand its presence in the key Asian market. Amgen licensed the drug initially back in 2009 and two years later investigators reported signs of improved heart contractions among 45 patients suffering from heart failure.

Under CEO Robert Bradway, a former Morgan Stanley executive in London, Amgen has been executing a string of new drug deals. Most of those pacts involved marketing and research collaborations like the one announced today. But he managed to stun Wall Street a few days ago with the surprising news that he had offered about $10 billion to buy Onyx ($ONXX) and its portfolio of cancer drugs, a move that the biotech rejected before hanging out the 'for sale' sign. 

"Ivabradine is a first-in-class innovative drug for the treatment of heart failure and angina. The clinical benefit and safety profile are supported by the results of clinical studies performed or being performed in more than 40,000 patients. I strongly believe that Servier's expertise in heart failure will complement Amgen's efforts in making omecamtiv mecarbil, a very innovative and complementary approach to treating heart failure, available to patients in Europe," said Emmanuel Canet, who heads R&D at Servier.

- here's the press release

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