Amgen, Astellas unite in strategic alliance

Agreement includes a long-term co-development and co- commercialization collaboration and the establishment of a joint venture in Japan

Kelsey Kaustinen
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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.—Amgen and Astellas Pharma Inc. haveannounced the formation of a strategic alliance aimed at making new medicinesavailable to address a number of serious unmet medical needs for patients inJapan.
The first part of the alliance consists of a long-termcollaboration between Amgen and Astellas to co-develop and co-commercialize, inJapan, five of Amgen's pipeline medicines. The compounds are in various stagesdevelopment in Japan, and the first potential commercial launch is expected asearly as 2016.
The second component of the alliance will be theestablishment of a Tokyo-based joint venture, which the partners will workthrough together in order to help Amgen develop on-the-ground capabilities inJapan. Astellas, which is headquartered in Tokyo, maintains a number of officesand subsidiaries in Japan, with a longstanding history in the area. The jointventure will be known as Amgen Astellas BioPharma KK, and will be staffed byseconded employees from Astellas, employees transferred from Amgen and newhires. The joint venture is expected to start operations October 1 this year,and will be a wholly owned affiliate of Amgen as soon as 2020 with thecollaboration continuing.
"We look forward to entering this alliance with Amgen and believeit will strengthen our pipeline to address unmet medical needs, as well asenable us to obtain growth drivers," Yoshihiko Hatanaka, president and CEO ofAstellas, commented in a statement. "We will work closely with Amgen to buildthe joint venture, which will provide innovative medicines to patients inJapan."
The five medicines Amgen and Astellas will focus on includethe following: AMG 145, an anti-PCSK-9 mAb indicated for the treatment ofhyperlipidemia; romosozumab (AMG 785), an anti-sclerostin mAb indicated forosteoporosis; rilotumumab (AMG 102), an anti-HGF mAb indicated for gastriccancer; AMG 337, a MET inhibitor indicated for gastric cancer; and blinatumomab(AMG 103), an anti-CD19 BiTE indicated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkin'slymphoma.
"Through this alliance, Amgen will work closely withAstellas to leverage its extensive knowledge of the local market," Robert A.Bradway, chairman and CEO of Amgen, said in a press release. "With Astellas'strong capabilities and excellent reputation, this alliance will helpaccelerate development and commercialization of Amgen medicines for patients inJapan. This alliance reflects our long-term commitment to the Japan market andis an important step in our global expansion efforts."
Amgen enlisted Goldman, Sachs & Co. as its financialadvisor in conjunction with this alliance, while Astellas retained Morrison& Foerster LLP as external legal counsel.
SOURCE: Astellas press release

Kelsey Kaustinen

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