Incyte to pay $750 million upfront under deal with MorphoSys to develop anti-CD19 antibody tafasitamab

Incyte agreed to pay $750 million upfront as part a deal to develop and commercialise MorphoSys' anti-CD19 antibody tafasitamab, which is currently being investigated for the treatment of B-cell malignancies, the companies reported Monday. Under the agreement, Incyte will make an equity investment in MorphoSys of $150 million, with the latter also eligible to receive milestone payments of up to $1.1 billion.

MorphoSys recently submitted an application in the US seeking approval of tafasitamab, in combination with lenalidomide, for the treatment of relapsed/refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. The FDA is expected to make a decision on the submission by mid-2020, while a European filing in this indication is planned for later this year.

"The global partnership with Incyte is an important step towards unlocking the full potential of tafasitamab and achieving our goal of rapidly bringing tafasitamab to patients inside and outside of the US," remarked MorphoSys chief executive Jean-Paul Kress. Last month, Morphosys' chief financial officer Jens Holstein suggested that the drug could potentially generate sales of more than $1 billion a year.

The drugmakers noted on Monday that they will co-market tafasitamab in the US, equally sharing profits and losses, while Incyte has exclusive commercialisation rights outside of the country. Under the agreement, MorphoSys will receive tiered royalties on ex-US net sales of tafasitamab in a mid-teens to mid-twenties percentage range of net sales.

Along with relapsed/refractory DLBCL, Incyte and MorphoSys plan to develop tafasitamab in front-line DLBCL, follicular lymphoma, marginal zone lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Incyte will also initiate a study of the drug, also known as MOR208, in combination with its investigational PI3K-delta inhibitor parsaclisib in relapsed/refractory B-cell malignancies. Under the agreed terms, Incyte will pay 55% of developmental costs for global and US-specific trials, with MorphoSys covering the remaining 45%. Meanwhile, Incyte will fund all studies that are specific to countries outside the US.

MorphoSys first gained rights to tafasitamab in 2010 as part of a licensing agreement with Xencor.

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