Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Move Over Erbitux

Genmab's fully human antibody HuMax-CD20 just took the title for the biggest single-product biopharma collaboration: up to $2.1 billion in biobucks with an impressive $1o2 million in cash and $357 million in equity (at a 50% premium to Genmab's previous 20-day average) up-front. The price tag underscores the rabid demand among pharma companies for new projects and the relative lack of available late-stage compounds.

While new partner GSK suddenly finds itself out a few hundred million bucks, it has landed global rights to one of--if not the--most promising unlicensed projects available. If Genmab had a list of conditions for a potential deal, it's fair to say they probably ticked all the boxes on that list. You can check out the details here.

HuMax-CD20 is being developed in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL), follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Expect expanded development--Genentech and Biogen Idec's anti-CD20 mab Rituxan, which boasted nearly $2 billion in US sales last year--is thought to be effective in a variety of oncology and autoimmune indications.

In October Genmab CEO Lisa Drakeman, PhD, told analysts that a deal was imminent. "I don't want to overpromise [on the timing]," she said at the company's R&D day in London. "We don't need more data, it's about finding the best possible fit." That same day she also noted that since Genmab had so far invested approximately $100 million in HuMax-CD20, any potential deal's upfront payment should reflect that expense. Job done.

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