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Takeda hands back rights to two Amgen drugs

Returns pain and ovarian cancer candidates but will continue with collaboration

TakedaTakeda has reduced its collaborative deal with Amgen in Japan, returning rights to two of the US biotech's late-stage drugs.

The two companies have had a longstanding agreement in which Takeda develops and markets Amgen drugs for the Japanese market. However, Takeda has decided it is no longer interested in developing pain candidate fulranumab (AMG403) and trebananib (AMG386), which is being tested in cancer.

The top Japanese drugmaker gave no specific reason for its decision in a statement released ahead of the weekend, merely saying that it would continue build "a portfolio of innovative medicines through our ongoing collaboration with Amgen."

The two companies have already worked together to bring Amgen's fast-growing colorectal cancer therapy Vectibix (panitumumab) to the Japanese pharma market, the second-largest in the world.

In the case of fulranumab, Takeda's decision likely stems from the high degree of risk with the project which has already prompted Johnson & Johnson to back out of a partnership on the drug.

Fulranumab is a nerve growth factor (NGF) inhibitor - a class that has seen candidates struggle to make headway through clinical trials with AstraZeneca and AbbVie both dropping candidates from development after disappointing results. Last month however Sanofi said its fasinumab candidate had performed well in a phase II/III trial, raising hopes that NGF inhibition remains a valid drug target.

J&J insisted that its decision to drop out of the fulranumab partnership stemmed from shifting commercial priorities rather than a safety or efficacy issue with the drug.

Analysts have suggested that a successful NGF inhibitor could be a blockbuster as it would provide an alternative to opioid analgesics for severe pain. At the moment it is a three horse race, with Lilly's tanezumab competing with Amgen and Sanofi's drugs.

In the case of trebananib the picture seems clearer - the compound has already failed one phase III trial in ovarian cancer and was dropped in this indication in 2014. As of earlier this year it was no longer listed in Amgen's pipeline so appears to have been discontinued entirely.

Article by
Phil Taylor

27th June 2016

From: Research

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