AbbVie to pay $595 million upfront for rights to Boehringer Ingelheim's experimental psoriasis drug

AbbVie agreed to pay $595 million upfront as part of a licensing agreement to develop and commercialise Boehringer Ingelheim's experimental drug BI 655066, which is in late-stage development for psoriasis, the companies reported Monday. Under the deal, Boehringer Ingelheim is also eligible to receive undisclosed milestone payments and royalties on net sales. The drugmakers added that along with BI 655066, which is an anti-IL-23 monoclonal biologic antibody, AbbVie gains rights to the anti-CD-40 antibody BI 655064.

"This collaboration positions BI 655066 as AbbVie's lead investigational compound in psoriasis, complementing our robust immunology pipeline," explained AbbVie chief scientific officer Michael Severino. "We have a long track record in immunology through our experience with Humira, and it’s an area we remain committed to," Severino noted.

Under the agreed terms, the drugmakers will share responsibility for the development of BI 655066, which is also being examined in Phase II studies for Crohn's disease and asthma, with a mid-stage trial planned for psoriatic arthritis. AbbVie will hold sole responsibility for commercialisation of the injectable therapy, while Boehringer Ingelheim will have an option to co-promote the drug for the treatment of asthma. The companies will additionally create a steering committee to guide the development and initial commercialisation phase of BI 655066.

Severino indicated that BI 655066 could be "best in class" based on mid-stage data, adding that results for Boehringer Ingelheim's drugs so far "are truly spectacular and have real potential for differentiation, representing a new treatment option for patients." Study data released last year showed that BI 655066 was associated with a greater proportion of patients who experienced complete or almost complete skin clearance than Johnson & Johnson's Stelara (ustekinumab). In addition, BI 655066 achieved more rapid skin clearance than Stelara, while its effects persisted for a longer period of time.

The companies added that under the deal, Boehringer Ingelheim will retain responsibility for further development of BI 655064, while AbbVie may choose to advance the programme after completion of certain undisclosed clinical achievements. The therapy is currently being investigated in an early-stage trial for lupus.

Meanwhile, AbbVie estimated that the transaction will depress per-share earnings for 2016 by about $0.08. The drugmaker currently expects full-year earnings in the range of $4.82 per share to $5.02 per share, compared to previous guidance of per-share earnings of in the range of $4.90 to $5.10. The company said the revised guidance reflects growth of approximately 15 percent at the midpoint.

For further analysis, read ViewPoints: With inflammatory and oncology locked down, AbbVie seeks a cornerstone franchise in the immunology market.

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