12:00 AM
 | 
Apr 09, 2012
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Divvying up skill sets

Inflammation deal frees resources at Amgen, gives AstraZeneca Phase III asset

AstraZeneca plc's deal for five clinical mAbs from Amgen Inc.'s inflammation and pulmonary portfolio puts the pharma close to its goal of getting 40% of its pipeline from external sources. For Amgen, last week's partnership frees up resources to allocate to other programs, including a cardiovascular and cancer pipeline the bellwether has said contains more assets than it can move into Phase III.

A driver of the deal is brodalumab (formerly AMG 827), a Phase III-ready human mAb against interleukin-17 (IL-17) receptor (IL17R; IL17RA) that has the potential for best-in-class efficacy. Last month, brodalumab met the primary endpoint of a greater percentage improvement in Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) score from baseline to week 12 vs. placebo in a Phase II trial in moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

The deal includes four Phase I programs. AMG 139 is a mAb against IL-23 that is in Phase Ib testing for Crohn's disease, while AMG 157, a mAb that blocks interaction of thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) with TSLP receptor, is in Phase Ib trials for asthma and atopic dermatitis.

The other two are AMG 181, a mAb that blocks the binding of mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule-1 (MAdCAM-1) that is in Phase Ib testing for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC); and AMG 557, a mAb targeting B7 related protein 1 (B7RP-1) that is in Phase I for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Amgen will receive $50 million up front. From 2012-14, AstraZeneca will fund 65% of the costs, which the pharma said will compensate for the work already completed by Amgen. Thereafter, costs will be split equally.

Commercially, Amgen will book global sales and retain single-digit royalties. The remaining revenues will be split equally. For brodalumab the royalty is in the low single-digits, while the other molecules have mid single-digit royalties.

The deal is the latest example of AZ's push to find candidates for its pipeline outside the company, a strategy it has been pursuing over the past two years by reshaping its R&D to be more integrated with business development (see BioCentury, Feb. 6 & Feb. 20).

"This is firm evidence of delivery on our strategy to bring more in from outside," said Shaun Grady, AstraZeneca's VP and head of the Strategic Partnering and Business Development (SPBD) group. "We've got this aspirational soft target...

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