Embattled biotech Ariad Pharmaceuticals ($ARIA) has signed a deal with Japan's Otsuka to trade the Asian rights to its top cancer drug in exchange for $77.5 million and the promise of more down the line.
Under the deal, Otsuka will have an exclusive license on Ariad's Iclusig in Japan and 9 other nations in the region. Ariad will pay the drug's way through its ongoing Japanese pivotal trial, and Otsuka will file a regulatory application on behalf of both next year, handing over an undisclosed payment upon approval. From then on, Ariad will collect a "substantial share" of Iclusig's Asian sales, the company said.
The drug, which treats a form of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), is Ariad's sole marketed asset, and the company has been slowly working to rebuild its value after a safety issue forced it off the market for a few months late last year, taking a $2.5 billion bite out of its market cap. The FDA eventually relented, paring back Iclusig's indication to cover only CML patients with the T315I mutation who had failed on other therapies and amending its label to include warnings about Iclusig's risk of blood clotting and heart failure.
|Ariad CEO Harvey Berger|
Now Ariad is striving to get back on track with its commercialization plans, which is where Otsuka fits in, CEO Harvey Berger said.
"This agreement meets one of our key strategic objectives--establishing a strong partnership with an experienced and committed Japanese pharmaceutical company to commercialize and co-develop Iclusig in Japan and Asia," Berger said in a statement. "Otsuka is building a leading hematology and oncology business in Japan and Asia and is an outstanding partner to successfully commercializing Iclusig in these markets."
Meanwhile, Ariad's R&D operation is back at work on expanding Iclusig's indications, running mid-stage studies in stomach, lung, thyroid and blood cancers associated with certain gene mutations. AP26113, the company's other clinical asset, is in the midst of a Phase II study in non-small cell lung cancer patients.
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