BMS builds bridges
Bristol-Myers Squibb taps Chinese partner to develop early-stage oncology compound
PRINCETON, N.J.—Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and SimcerePharmaceutical Group, a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Nanjing, China,have formed a strategic partnership to co-develop BMS-817378, a preclinicalsmall molecule MET/VEGFR-2 inhibitor.
The MET/VEGFR-2 mechanism is involved in progression andmetastasis of various cancers, including lung, esophageal and gastric.
Becausethe compound is just going into Phase I trials, Jeremy Levin, BMS' senior vicepresident of strategic alliances and transactions, declines to speculate onwhat specific cancers might be early targets, but he notes that the arrangementwith Simcere represents a creative approach to accelerate a preclinicaloncology compound to clinical proof-of-concept by leveraging the complementarystrengths of BMS, a global pharmaceutical company, and a premier Chinesepharmaceutical company that wants to build a portfolio in a restricted area ofthe world.
Under the terms of the agreement, Simcere receives exclusiverights to develop and commercialize BMS-817378 in China, while BMS retainsexclusive rights in all other markets. The parties will together determine thestrategic development plan, which will initially be performed by Simcere.Financial terms were not disclosed.
Levin notes that the transaction resulted from a processthat was set in place more than three years ago. At that time, BMS adopted a"three-legged" approach to its overall biopharma strategy to drive innovationthroughout its value chain with a focus on unmet medical needs; stressselective integration with partners that "marry-up well" with BMS; andmodernize the entire infrastructure of the company with the goal of continuousimprovement. A key to implementing the overall strategy was to identify assetswithin the pipeline to focus BMS' people, time and capital, stop other projectsand define a third group that occupied a "gray area" for joint development withpartners such as Simcere that add value and can speed the development process.
In China, Levin notes, Simcere knows the market and both thephysician and patient populations, which will help streamline the process.Furthermore, Levin says that experience over the past three-plus yearsindicates that the "selective integration" strategy is working.
"We have deep experience in partnerships and alliancemanagement," he says, "and now have 19 major pharma and biotech relationshipsthat are responsible for generating half of all company revenues. It's a formalstructure within R&D, with clear guidelines and appropriate forums todiscuss relevant issues without bureaucracy."
"This groundbreaking partnership demonstrates how a leadingresearch and development-based Chinese company can work together with a globalpharmaceutical company to accelerate a drug development timeline and conductfirst-in-human studies in China. This approach allows the partnership toleverage our well-recognized clinical and regulatory capabilities and ouraccess to the vast patient pool in China," comments Dr. Peng Wang, chiefscientific officer of Simcere.
In recent years, Simcere has been focusing its strategy onthe development of innovative pharmaceuticals and first-to-market generics, andhas introduced an innovative anti-cancer medication Endu, a first-to-marketmedication Sinofuan, and first-to-market generics such as Bicun and Anxin.Simcere manufactures and sells anti-infective, anti-cancer and strokemanagement medications. The company concentrates its research and developmentefforts on the treatment of diseases with high incidence and/or mortalityrates, and for which there is a clear demand for more effective pharmacotherapysuch as cancer, strokes, orthopedics and infectious diseases.