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AstraZeneca, Merck to partner

Friday, July 28, 2017

AstraZeneca and Merck & Co., Inc. have announced that they have entered a global strategic oncology collaboration to co-develop and co-commercialize AstraZeneca’s Lynparza (olaparib) for multiple cancer types. Lynparza is an innovative, first-in-class oral poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor currently approved for BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer in multiple lines of treatment.

Lynparza’s pipeline has grown significantly in the last few years, with 14 indications currently being developed across several tumor types, including breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers. The strategic collaboration is expected to further increase the number of treatment options available to patients.

The companies will develop and commercialise Lynparza jointly, both as monotherapy and in combination with other potential medicines. Independently, the companies will develop and commercialise Lynparza in combination with their respective PD-L1 and PD-1 medicines, Imfinzi (durvalumab) and Keytruda(pembrolizumab).

The companies will also jointly develop and commercialize AstraZeneca’s selumetinib, an oral, potent, selective inhibitor of MEK, part of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, currently being developed for multiple indications including thyroid cancer.

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer of AstraZeneca, said, “Our strategic collaboration builds on scientific evidence that PARP and MEK inhibitors can be combined with PD-L1/PD-1 inhibitors for a range of tumors. By bringing together the expertise of two leading oncology innovators, we will accelerate Lynparza’s potential to become the preferred backbone of many immuno-oncology combination therapies as the world’s first and leading PARP inhibitor. This is a truly exciting step and we are pleased to work with Merck, a company that shares our passion for science to deliver new medicines for cancer patients.”  

Kenneth C. Frazier, Chief Executive Officer of Merck, said, “This global collaboration between AstraZeneca and Merck, two oncology leaders, will increase the possibilities for patients to have more treatment options for more cancers. Merck continues to build its leadership in immuno-oncology with Keytruda as foundational in monotherapy and combination therapy, and this collaboration expands our oncology leadership into the growing targeted therapies of PARP and MEK inhibitors. We look forward to working with AstraZeneca to create greater value for patients and shareholders than if both companies worked independently.” 

Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca and Merck will share the development and commercialization costs for Lynparza and selumetinib monotherapy and non-PD-L1/PD-1 combination therapy opportunities. Gross profits from Lynparza and selumetinib Product Sales generated through monotherapies or combination therapies will be shared equally.

Merck will fund all development and commercialization costs of Keytruda in combination with Lynparza or selumetinib. AstraZeneca will fund all development and commercialization costs of Imfinzi in combination with Lynparza or selumetinib.

AstraZeneca will continue to manufacture Lynparza and selumetinib.

As part of the agreement, Merck will pay AstraZeneca up to $8.5 billion in total consideration, including $1.6 billion upfront, $750 million for certain license options and up to $6.15 billion contingent upon successful achievement of future regulatory and sales milestones. Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca anticipates approximately $1 billion to be recorded under Externalization Revenue in 2017.             

AstraZeneca will book all Product Sales of Lynparza and selumetinib; gross profits due to Merck under the collaboration will be recorded under Cost of Sales. The initial, regulatory and commercial milestone payments will be recorded under Externalization Revenue. The transaction does not impact AstraZeneca’s 2017 financial guidance. AstraZeneca continues to anticipate that the sum of Externalization Revenue and Other Operating Income in FY 2017 will be ahead of that in FY 2016.

The collaboration agreement was completed upon signing on July 26, 2017.

For the purposes of the UK Listing Authority’s Listing Rule LR 10.4.1 R (Notification of class 2 transactions), the book value of gross assets subject to the license and collaboration is approximately $242 million. In view of the development and early growth phase of the medicines, a pre-tax loss of $231 million was attributable to Lynparza and selumetinib in aggregate in the year to December 31, 2016.

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