With cash burning holes in their pockets, withering prospects in their pipelines and Merck and Bristol Meyers Squibb recently having dipped into the BioTech trough, people expected more pharmaceutical companies to make moves in this space before long.
Sure enough, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer got BioTech deals done before the close of Q4.
GSK struck first, inking a global alliance with Dynavax to develop and commercialize toll-like receptor inhibitors for the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
TLRs are immune system receptors that activate inflammatory processes.
Terms of the deal call for GSK to give Dynavax $10 million up front in return for rights of first refusal on programs focusing on rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and lupus.
Dynavax carries out early R & D for these programs and can receive up to $200 million per program by hitting development milestones.
If GSK exercises its RFR to license the outputs of each program, it then assumes responsibility for ongoing development and commercialization. Dynavax would receive royalties on sales.
Pfizer bellied up to the bar too, signing a European marketing deal with Auxilium Pharmaceuticals for XIAFLEX , a first-of-its-kind, late-stage biologic used to treat Dupuytren’s contractures and Peyronie’s disease.
Auxillium gets $75 million upfront and can achieve $410 million more by hitting milestones, the first third of which are regulatory in nature, while the remaining are tied to sales.
The arms-length relationship in both cases is similar to the deal BMS cut with Exelixis a few weeks ago. More deals structured like them are sure to follow, as Big Pharma seeks arrangements that mitigate risk during the economic crisis.