Johnson & Johnson gains rights to Tesaro's experimental drug niraparib in prostate cancer

Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Biotech unit entered a global agreement potentially worth up to $450 million for exclusive rights to Tesaro's experimental drug niraparib in prostate cancer, the companies reported Wednesday. Under the agreed terms for the PARP inhibitor, Janssen will make an upfront payment of $35 million to Tesaro, with the latter eligible to receive milestone payments of up to $415 million, as well as tiered, double-digit royalty payments. Further, Johnson & Johnson will make a $50 million equity investment in Tesaro at a price of $44.24 per share.

Under the agreement, Johnson & Johnson will hold responsibility for funding and completing all development and commercialisation activities for niraparib in the treatment of prostate cancer in all markets excluding Japan. Tesaro will retain global development, manufacturing and commercial rights to the oral drug for all other indications.

"PARP inhibitors are an exciting, emerging class of medicines in prostate cancer, and we believe niraparib will perfectly complement our existing portfolio," commented Peter Lebowitz, head of Janssen Research and Development's oncology therapeutic area. Lebowitz added "our team is eager to apply its prostate cancer expertise to niraparib, and enthusiastic about its potential to expand our impact on the lives of men with this disease."

According to Tesaro CEO Lonnie Moulder, niraparib might be used together with existing prostate cancer drugs. "A combination could address an earlier and broader array of men with prostate cancer than a single agent," Moulder remarked.

Niraparib is currently in late-stage development for metastatic breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Jefferies analyst Eun Yang recently indicated that she was "cautiously optimistic" concerning the likelihood of success in a Phase III study of the therapy in breast cancer.

For more information on the latest events with the potential to shape the targeted treatment of prostate cancer, see Prostate Cancer: Update Bulletin.

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