BEIJING—In what is being called one of the largest biotech drug development deals in China between a multinational and domestic company, Eli Lilly and Co. and Innovent Biologics Inc. announced recently that the two companies will collaborate to support the development and potential commercialization of at least three cancer treatments over the next decade.
According to both parties, “The agreement creates possible new treatment options for cancer patients, while strengthening the presence of both companies in the Chinese oncology market.” And the price tag? Innovent will get an upfront payment of $56 million from Lilly, with the potential for future payments that could top $400 million for a preclinical immuno-oncology molecule if the product reaches certain development, regulatory and sales milestones. In addition, sales royalties and other payments would be on the table for Innovent if any products from the deal are commercialized. No other financial terms were disclosed.
Innovent will take lead on development and manufacturing for the Chinese market and Lilly will be responsible for commercialization of the three potential medicines, with Innovent also having co-promotion rights.
So, how does that break down in terms of the nuts and bolts? First, Lilly will be contributing its cMet monoclonal antibody gene for possible treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, while also continuing the development of its cMet monoclonal antibody program outside of China. For its part, Innovent will contribute its monoclonal antibody targeting protein CD-20 for investigation in hematologic malignancies, for which the company has already received investigational new drug approval in China. Also, Innovent will contribute a preclinical immuno-oncology molecule for development in China, with the two parties agreeing that Lilly will be responsible for development, manufacturing and commercialization of the molecule outside of China. Finally, Lilly will also receive rights to develop and commercialize as many as three preclinical bispecific immuno-oncology molecules outside of China.
“We are pleased to collaborate with Innovent to develop potential therapies for those fighting cancer in China and around the world,” said Alfonso Zulueta, senior vice president, and president of Lilly Emerging Markets. “This alliance marks an important milestone in our longstanding commitment to China, and further reinforces our focus to develop collaborative networks to advance research and clinical development in emerging markets.”
“This groundbreaking collaboration establishes Innovent as the very first company in China to form such a broad alliance with a global pharmaceutical company, and we are honored to collaborate with a company as esteemed as Lilly,” added Dr. Michael Yu, co-founder, president and CEO of Innovent. “Given our experience, significant insights into the China market and international compliance standards, we strongly believe Innovent is ideally suited to serve as Lilly's Chinese collaborator of choice."
Lilly notes that it has “a robust oncology pipeline that includes both small molecules and monoclonal antibodies, which are being studied to treat a wide range of cancers including breast, colorectal, liver and non-small cell lung.”
Although the analyst firm didn’t have much to say opinion-wise about the deal, Zacks Investment Research did point out in relation to describing the deal that “Lilly has been quite active in pursuing in-licensing deals to boost its product portfolio and pipeline. Last week, the company entered into an agreement with Hanmi Pharmaceutical to develop and commercialize Hanmi's oral Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor, HM71224, which is being developed for the treatment of autoimmune and other diseases … Meanwhile, late last year, the company had inked a deal with Adocia to develop an ultra-rapid insulin, BioChaperone Lispro, for the treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.”