Astellas Pharma has signed a deal to license Medivation’s late-stage prostate cancer drug in a deal that could be worth $765 million.

The drug in question is MDV3100 which is currently being evaluated in a Phase III trial in men with castration-resistant prostate cancer who were previously treated with docetaxel-based chemotherapy. MDV3100, a new generation of oral anti-androgen has been shown in preclinical studies “to provide more complete suppression of the androgen receptor pathway than bicalutamide, the most commonly used anti-androgen”, Medivation says.

Under the terms of the agreement, Medivation will receive an upfront cash fee of $110 million and be eligible to receive payments of up to $335 million in development and regulatory milestones plus up to $320 million in commercial milestones. The companies will collaborate on “a comprehensive development programme that will include additional studies to develop MDV3100 for both late- and early-stage prostate cancer”. They will jointly commercialise the drug in the USA while Astellas will have responsibility for it abroad and will pay Medivation tiered double-digit royalties.

Astellas chief executive Masafumi Nogimori said “we believe MDV3100 has the unique potential to establish a new treatment approach for prostate cancer”. He added that the partnership “is a significant milestone to further expand our business in urology and to establish our franchise in oncology”.
The deal is another coup for Medivation, which already has a late-stage deal in place with Pfizer for the investigational Alzheimer’s disease compound Dimebon (latrepirdine).

RA drug dropped
News of the Medivation deal came a day after Astellas announced that it has decided to terminate the development of ASK8007, an anti-human osteopontin antibody for rheumatoid arthritis, partnered with fellow Japanese firm Chemo-Sero-Therapeutic Research Institute. The decision was taken after a review of Phase I data but the company is now considering a possible application of the drug to indications other than RA.

Analyst downgrade
Meantime, Astellas has been downgraded by analysts at Barclays Capital to "underweight" from "equal weight", on the basis of generic competition to its transplant drug Prograf (tacrolimus). Novartis unit Sandoz launched its version of the immunosuppressive treatment in August in the USA.