AstraZeneca inks oncology partnership with Merck post the former’s disastrous failure of the Mystic trial
Date: 2017-07-28   Author: Saipriya Iyer  Category: #market

AstraZeneca and Merck have jointly entered into a strategic oncology collaboration with an aim to collectively develop and commercialize AstraZeneca’s Lynparza oral poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor for multiple cancer types as a monotherapy as well as in combination with other medicines – jointly in the beginning, and then independently in combination with Keytruda and Imfinzi.

AstraZeneca’s quick decision to collaborate with Merck post its epic failure of Mystic has been touted by industry experts as a desperate move by the UK pharmaceutical market player to sustain its newly-established position in the cancer immunotherapy industry. As per the terms of the deal, Merck will pay an upfront of USD 1.6 billion to AstraZeneca to gain the exclusive commercialization rights to its Lynparza drug therapy. A further payment of USD 750 million is on the cards for license options, while an amount of USD 6.15 billion will be offered after accomplishing the regulatory and sales targets. The deal is likely to mark an overall valuation of USD 8.5 billion (EUR 7.2 billion).

For the uninitiated, AstraZeneca had recently conducted the clinical trials of the combination of two its renowned immunotherapy drugs – tremelimumab and durvalumab (Imfinzi), aimed at preventing lung cancers from spreading, which was one of the goals of the Mystic trial. The results of the trial have depicted a downward graph, posing a severe disappointment for AstraZeneca. What is astonishing though, is the fact that the Britain pharma player is still not sure if the drug combination would aid patients to extend their lifespan and provide them a new lease of life. The results of the same will be out on the radar next year, which, as per analysts, indicate that the study still has a fair chance to emerge as a success. Nevertheless, the results of the current trial have proved to be a severe setback for AstraZeneca, the immediate results of which were promptly depicted at the trade show. Post the Mystic trial, AstraZeneca’s shares fell more than 15% in pre-market trading.

As opposed to its peers, AstraZeneca has comparatively had a late start in cancer immunotherapy market, which is on its way to become one of the most lucrative businesses under the umbrella of cancer treatment industry, owing to the fact that immunotherapy is one of the most proactive and dynamic treatment methodologies for the globally dreaded disease. Through this strategic alliance, AstraZeneca, apart from Lynparza, has also granted Merck, the exclusive rights to Selumetinib, the experimental drug therapy. In addition, AstraZeneca expects the U.S. based pharma giant to test both the drugs in combination with other therapies including Pembrolizumab, for deriving an effective treatment for multiple cancers.

One of the top-notch officials of Merck was quoted stating that this collaboration between both the renowned oncology leaders, Merck and AstraZeneca, would prove to be abundantly rewarding for patients, as they gain renewed access to multiple treatment options for cancers. Merck, already a strong player in immuno-oncology, has its eyes set on capturing the crown, with the usage of Keytruda in monotherapy as well as in combination therapy. Post this alliance, Merck expects an expansion in the markets of the PARP and MEK inhibitors to create more value for patients as well as for the stakeholders.

For the record, Lynparza has currently been granted the approval for ovarian cancer, however, AstraZeneca expects that through the mutual benefits of this multi-billion-dollar collaboration, the therapy can be used for treating prostrate, pancreatic, and breast cancers as well. As per experts, this partnership is symbolic of the rising prominence of oncology across the pharmaceutical fraternity, and is anticipated to depict an upsurge in the number of treatment options for cancer patients.



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Saipriya Iyer

Saipriya Iyer

Saipriya Iyer currently works as a content developer for AlgosOnline. A computer engineer by profession, she ventured into the field of writing for the love of playing with words. Having had a previous experience of 3 years under her belt, she has dabbled with website...

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