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Lilly enters cancer collaboration in China

Signs deal with Chi-Med to develop and commercialise fruquintinib
Eli Lilly HQ

US-based pharma company Lilly has signed a deal with China's Chi-Med to develop and commercialise a treatment in development for several forms of cancer.

Lilly will work with Chi-Med's research-focused subsidiary Hutchison MediPharma to investigate fruquintinib (HMPL-013), a small molecule to inhibit the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor tyrosine kinases.

The drug has already demonstrated its potential to treat advanced refractory solid tumours in phase I testing, and a follow-up phase II study is ongoing with results expected in early 2014.

Several phase II and phase III studies are planned to study fruquintinib in patients with a variety of solid tumours.

The deal involves a series of payments from Lilly to Hutchison worth up to $86.5m, including upfront fees and milestones. Hutchison would also receive tiered royalties if fruquintinib was commercialised in China.

Both companies will share future development costs, although further research will be carried out solely in China by Hutchison.

Lilly already has experience in the development of VEGF inhibitors through its investigational treatment ramucirumab, which recently disappointed in a phase III trial for breast cancer but showed positive data in stomach cancer.

Christian Hogg, CEO of Chi-Med did not go into details about the potential of fruquintinib, but said it was a promising prospect in a variety of cancer.

“Our belief is that fruquintinib has potential activity against multiple tumour types with high incidence rates and may benefit patients with significant unmet medical needs in China,” he said.

“The collaboration with Lilly will allow for fruquintinib to be developed across various tumour types in China and at a far greater speed than if we went alone.” 

Lilly has increased its research investment in China in recent years, including the opening of a diabetes R&D centre in Shanghai in June 2012.

Like diabetes, cancer is another chronic condition on the rise in the area, and Lilly will be looking with interest at the development of fruquintinib.

“In Lilly's emerging markets business, we are focused on providing patients with innovative medicines from our own pipeline and through collaborations with respected science-based companies such as HMP,” said Jacques Tapiero, Lilly's senior VP and president of emerging markets.

“Together, we are committed to help meet the medical needs of oncology patients in China.”

Article by
Thomas Meek

9th October 2013

From: Research

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