GSK Inks $1B Deal Securing Rights to Arrowhead, J&J’s Hepatitis B Drug

Pictured: GSK's office in Poznan, Poland/iStock, W

Pictured: GSK’s office in Poznan, Poland/iStock, W

Wirestock/Getty Images

The British biopharma and Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals have reached an agreement with J&J’s Janssen to transfer worldwide rights to develop and commercialize JNJ-3989 to GSK.

Pictured: GSK office in Poland/iStock, Wirestock

GSK said on Tuesday that it has acquired the rights to Arrowhead Pharmaceutical’s hepatitis B candidate, which was first in-licensed by J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals in 2018.

Under the terms of the deal, GSK has obtained worldwide exclusive rights to the candidate known as JNJ-3989, originally the ARO-HBV program. The drug is an RNAi-based therapeutic developed as a curative therapy for patients with chronic hepatitis B.

GSK will also take on the obligations of the original license agreement between Arrowhead and Janssen, including any remaining cash that is owed to Arrowhead and for any upfront and milestone payments to both Janssen and Arrowhead, which is around $1 billion according to the announcement.

The British biopharma will also continue the candidate’s trials and assume any costs related to any future development and commercialization, while any remaining financial obligations that Janssen may still owe Arrowhead will be GSK’s responsibility.

GSK plans to investigate the JNJ-3989 candidate for use alongside bepirovirsen, its investigational oligonucleotide to treat non-cirrhotic adults with chronic hepatitis B. However, the company did not present any details for any further development efforts.

“We are excited to build on promising results already demonstrated with bepirovirsen to investigate a novel sequential regimen with JNJ-3989. We believe this approach could redefine the treatment paradigm for chronic hepatitis B by helping even more patients achieve functional cure,” GSK CSO Tony Wood said in a statement.

The original deal in 2018 saw Arrowhead secure a $175 million upfront payment and a $75 million equity investment in the company by Johnson & Johnson Innovation. Arrowhead also got an estimated $1.6 billion in milestone payments for the licensing agreement and around $1.9 billion in costs for three other targets. Arrowhead was also eligible to get royalties in the mid-teens on product sales in the Janssen deal.

GSK and Arrowhead also recently inked a deal. In 2021, GSK paid $120 million upfront to develop and commercialize Arrowhead’s RNAi drug to treat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

Janssen has also been culling its partnerships. In May 2023, it ended its collaboration with Bavarian Nordic to develop vaccines for hepatitis B and human papillomavirus.

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at Follow him on LinkedIn.

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at Follow him on LinkedIn.