Baxter and Onconova ink $500M-plus licensing pact for PhIII cancer drug

Onconova Therapeutics has scored a major partnership deal with Baxter International ($BAX), which has ponied up $50 million upfront and committed $515 million in potential milestones for European market rights to Onconova's anti-cancer drug rigosertib now in late-stage development for rare blood cancers and a Phase II/III trial for patients with pancreatic cancer.  

Baxter says the deal fuels its expansion in oncology and beefs up its strong footing in providing treatments for hematological conditions. And the Deerfield, IL-based pharma group has bet heavily on Onconova through both this latest partnership and Baxter's previous $50 million equity investment in the Newtown, PA-based drug developer.

The influx of cash from Baxter supports Onconova's ambitious development plans for rigosertib, a dual PI3K and PLK drug, with the lead indication of treating patients with rare hematologic cancers known as Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS). In mid-2013, Onconova expects initial results from a Phase III study of an IV form of rigosertib that involves 270 patients with MDS who have failed on previous treatments or whose cancers have relapsed. And in the Phase II/III trial of the drug in pancreatic cancer, Onconova is betting on the ability of the candidate to combat one of the trickiest solid tumors in the oncology arena.

''We look forward to working closely with Baxter with the shared goal of providing this therapy to patients in Europe,'' Ramesh Kumar, Onconova's CEO, said in a statement. ''The financial resources resulting from this transaction will help to advance the rigosertib program toward commmercialization and will support other Onconova candidates in clinical development including Ex-RAD(R), a radioprotectant, and ON 013105, our second novel anti-cancer agent.''

As with most licensing deals with pharma nowadays, Onconova faces multiple hurdles to reap the bulk of the potential payments in the Baxter pact. Baxter's $515 million in committed milestone payments are pinned to pre-commercial development and regulatory goals of the rigosertib program in MDS and pancreatic cancer, and Onconova stands to earn even more from potential royalties and sales milestones from Baxter.

- here's the release

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