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BMS gives Erbitux rights to Lilly in the US

Firm wants to focus on its burgeoning PD-1 cancer range

Erbitux pack shot 

Bristol-Myers Squibb is handing over the rights for its co-marketed ageing oncology product Erbitux to partner Lilly as it looks to sharpen its focus on a new range of cancer drugs.

BMS will give up the rights to the colorectal and neck and head cancer treatment Erbitux (cetuximab) in North America, which also includes full commercialisation and manufacturing operational responsibilities being given to its fellow US native company. 

The companies' decision comes after a successful collaboration that lasted 14 years through Lilly's wholly-owned subsidiary ImClone. 

The drug is also marketed in Europe by Merck KGaA, although the rights there remain unaffected. In February, BMS also turned over marketing rights to the drug in Japan to Merck, where the two had shared that responsibility.

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Lilly said in a joint statement that they would “work closely to ensure a smooth transition”.

Sue Mahony, senior VP and president of Lilly Oncology, said: “Fully bringing Erbitux into the Lilly Oncology portfolio accelerates Lilly's commitment and leadership in gastrointestinal cancers to include an effective treatment for advanced colorectal cancer as well as head and neck cancer.

“Our good work on Erbitux began with its development at ImClone and has continued with Bristol-Myers Squibb. We look forward to carrying on these efforts for people battling select advanced colorectal and head and neck cancers.”

Erbitux made $723m last year - up from $693m the year before - in the North America region. Lilly has been taking around half of that revenue, but will soon be able to take a much larger share. 

This comes as BMS looks to expand upon its growing portfolio of cancer drugs that are based on a new mechanism of action.

Earlier this year it received approval for Opdivo (nivolumab) in melanoma. The drug works as a PD-1 inhibitor that can effectively teach the body to attack cancer cells - this is seen a the next-generation of cancer drugs after products like Erbitux, which target certain genetic mutations.

The new PD-1 market is expected to be worth around $30bn in the next decade, with another product by Merck & Co already on the market, and others from Roche and AstraZeneca expected to be approved within the next year. 

Murdo Gordon, head of worldwide markets at BMS, added: “Bristol-Myers Squibb is incredibly proud to have built Erbitux into a major brand and an important therapy for so many patients with certain colorectal and head and neck cancers. 

“This agreement further aligns our oncology organisation with our prioritised opportunities in immuno-oncology, across both solid tumours and haematologic malignancies.”

The transition will be finalised by fourth quarter of 2015. BMS said it would receive tiered royalties based on net product sales in North America after the completion of the transition through September 2018.

Article by
Ben Adams

17th April 2015

From: Sales



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