BioMS blooms with Lilly

The companies will partner up on multiple sclerosis compound.

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EDMONTON, Alberta—As BioMS Medical Corp. moved through research and development phases of MBP8298, its key multiple sclerosis compound, the company started searching for a partner for licensing and development efforts. The Edmonton-based company found a firm it could dance with in Eli Lilly & Co.Under the terms of the agreement, which the companies entered in December, BioMS will continue to oversee all current clinical trials, while Lilly will be responsible for all future R&D, manufacturing and marketing activities. BioMS will receive an upfront payment of $87 million, as well as potential development and sales milestones up to $410 million.
"With these resources and the support from a world-class pharmaceutical company, we are well positioned to realize our shared goal of developing MBP8298 to bring new hope to patients suffering from MS," says Kevin Giese, president and CEO of BioMS. "We had several potential partners and thought Lilly offered the best opportunity."
The synthetic peptide compound consists of 17 amino acids linked in a sequence identical to that of a portion of human myelin basic protein (MBP). Lilly intends to use its well-established expertise in the psychiatry sector, to help MBP8298 realize its full potential within the neurology arena.According to Giese, the measure of a successful partnership is easy to quantify.
"I consider it successful if you can get a partner who understands your technology and has a lot of enthusiasm for the potential drug and gets behind the development of the drug," he says. "That is what we are seeing from this partner."
Giese says BioMS has already committed at least $60 million of the $87 upfront payment to fund the company's core existing clinical program. "The potential milestones upfront is almost half a billion dollars," says Giese. "You never want to disclose exactly what your royalty is going to be, but we have double digit royalties commensurate with the late stage technology at the high end of the range."
Measuring success, according to Giese, goes beyond dollars and cents. "The bottom line is that with respect to secondary progressive MS patients, there really is a lack of drugs out there," says Giese. "We are the only Phase III clinical trial in the world in this area. With Lilly coming on to launch this, there is a first-in-class opportunity. This partnership puts us in a position to capitalize on what we've accomplished."
The recent FTC approval of the deal granting Lilly worldwide rights to MBP8298 represents a major step forward for Lilly, as the company looks to diversify its traditionally psychiatry-focused CNS offerings by expanding into neurology.MBP8298 is currently being evaluated in two pivotal Phase III clinical trials in secondary progressive MS (SPMS) and one Phase II trial in relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).
"Lilly has a great track record in launching drugs that are first-in-class" adds Giese. "They understand the technology and its potential."
MBP8298 reportedly offers Lilly an ideal entry point into neurology. Estimated to be worth $5.2 billion across the seven major markets­—the United States, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom—in 2007, the market for MS therapeutics has shown consistently strong annual growth, and is estimated to be the largest neurology indication by value.Additionally, with only Bayer Schering's Betaseron (interferon-beta 1b) and Merck Serono's Novantrone (mitoxantrone) approved for SPMS, this segment of the MS market represents an underserved and yet potentially high-value niche. DDNeditconnect: e020817

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