Amgen's big Asian push triggers $75M heart drug pact for Japan

Amgen's ($AMGN) new Asia strategy is paying off for one of its development partners. Shares of Cytokinetics ($CYTK) surged 18% this morning after Amgen agreed to hand over $25 million in cash and up to $50 million in royalties in exchange for the Japanese rights to a heart drug now on the threshold of Phase III testing.

Amgen is paying $15 million as an upfront fee and $10 million for a chunk of stock in the biotech. And the Big Biotech will foot the bill for a Phase I pharmacokinetic study designed to set the stage for a Phase III study that will now include Japanese patients.

Amgen started out 2013 with a New Year's resolution to play catch-up in Asia, a market where it's been largely absent. And in recent months the company has executed a drug development pact with Astellas Pharma, blueprinted a $200 million biologics plant in Singapore and forged a joint venture in China to market the cancer drug Vectibix. 

Now it adds the Japanese market to the global pact it struck with Cytokinetics back in 2009 for omecamtiv mecarbil, a cardiac myosin activator that has now been put through multiple Phase I and Phase II studies for heart failure. Amgen and Cytokinetics originally partnered on a discovery pact back in 2006.

"Our decision to amend the agreement at this time is based on our confidence in the progress of our collaborative development program for omecamtiv mecarbil and on Amgen's recent commitment to expand its business activities in Japan," said Robert Blum, Cytokinetics' CEO. "We look forward to the integration of Japan into our collaboration's global development plan for this promising drug candidate."

- here's the press release

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