Third Deal in a Week, AstraZeneca PLC Acquires Cancer Drug from Inovio Pharma for Possible $727.5 Million

Third Deal in A Week, AstraZeneca Acquires Cancer Drug from Inovio Pharma for Possible $727.5M
August 10, 2015
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

UK-based AstraZeneca PLC has been busy, announcing its third deal in the last week today, this time a licensing agreement and collaboration deal between MedImmune , AstraZeneca’s research and development arm, with Plymouth Meeting, Penn.-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals .

Under this new deal, MedImmune acquired exclusive rights to Inovio’s INO-3112 immunotherapy against cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18. The therapeutics is in Phase I/II clinical trials for cervical and head and neck cancers. HPV 16/18 account for more than 70 percent of cervical pre-cancers and cancers.

MedImmune will pay Inovio $27.5 million, as well as possible milestone payments up to $700 million. MedImmune will fund development costs and Inovia could receive double-digit tiered royalties if the drug makes it to market.

In addition, the companies intend to develop up to two more DNA-based cancer vaccine products.

“Today’s collaboration with Inovio leverages our deep internal expertise in the use of vaccines to drive antigen-specific T-cell responses,” said David Berman, senior vice president and head of Oncology Innovative Medicines at MedImmune, in a statement. “The unique combination of our broad immuno-oncology portfolio with Inovio’s T-cell-activating INO-3112, which enhances cancer specific killer T-cells, has the potential to deliver real clinical benefits for patients.”

On Aug. 6, 2015, AstraZeneca announced a licensing deal with Heptares Therapeutics, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sosei Group Corporation, for the worldwide rights to HTL-1071 for various cancer treatments. AstraZeneca will pay Heptares $10 million up front and various milestones. Royalties could exceed $500 million if a product is commercialized.

On July 27, 2015, AstraZeneca announced it had signed a definitive agreement with Genzyme Corporation, a Sanofi company, to sell cancer drug Caprelsa (vandetanib) for the treatment of symptomatic medullar thyroid carcinoma. Genzyme will pay $165 million for global rights to sell and develop the drug, with potential milestones payments that could add another $135 million for a total of $300 million.

Earlier in July, AstraZeneca announced it had divested its gastrointestinal drug, Entocort, for $215 million. Sales rights outside the U.S. sold to Tillotts Pharma, part of the Zerla Group.

The company indicates that all the deals are designed to refocus on selected therapeutic areas, specifically cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes.

In AstraZeneca’s 2015 half-year financial report the company indicated it was terminating three projects between April 1 and June 30. They were a program for selumetinib for uveal melanoma, tenapanor for ESRD-pi/CKD with T2DM and Nexium for refractory reflux esophagitis.

Today’s deal announcement expands Inovio and MedImmune’s existing partnership in infectious diseases. The two companies have two projects funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that focus on Ebola, influenza and bacterial infections.

“Our licensing partnership with MedImmune represents an important step in executing our immuno-oncology combination strategy and advancing Inovio’s cancer vaccine research and development pipeline with a leading cancer immunotherapy company,” said Joseph Kim, president and chief executive officer of Inovio in a statement. “INO-3112 is progressing, with positive interim data generated in an Inovio-initiated Phase I study. We appreciate MedImmune’s recognition of our ability to activate best-in-class killer T-cells in vivo and look forward to working with them on this collaboration.”

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