Bristol-Myers Squibb is giving Exelixis a $195 million upfront payment to get access to two of the latter firm’s promising oncology compounds.

The deal covers “two novel molecules for cancer”, namely XL184, which is in Phase III trials for medullary thyroid cancer, and XL281, a treatment for advanced solid tumour malignancies which is in Phase I. As well as the large upfront fee, B-MS will make additional licence payments of $45 million in 2009.

Regarding XL184, the compound will be co-developed by the firms and Exelixis will have the option to co-promote the drug in the USA, where they will share profits. Exelixis will be eligible to receive milestone payments of up to $150 million and double-digit royalties on sales outside the USA.

As for XL281, B-MS gets an exclusive worldwide licence to develop and commercialise the compound, while Exelixis could receive up to $315 million for development and regulatory milestones and up to $150 million depending on sales, as well as double-digit royalties.

The two firms have been working together for nearly a decade. George Scangos, chief executive of the Soth San Francisco-based firm, said that “there have been many attempts to blend the best of big pharma with the best of biotech, and over the years Exelixis and B-MS have learned how to do just that”. This new collaboration “maximises the capabilities and strengths of each partner”, he added, and “sets the stage for the aggressive development of XL184 and XL281”.

B-MS and Sanofi win Plavix patent appeal
More good news for B-MS and partner Sanofi-Aventis came as the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a decision made in June 2007 which rejecting a challenge made by Canada’s Apotex to a patent covering the bloodthinner blockbuster Plavix (clopidogrel).

The ruling means that B-MS and Sanofi will now seek reimbursement from Apotex which flooded the US market with its generic Plavix product in 2006 after a deal with B-MS collapsed. Apotex says it is asking for another hearing and chief executive Barry Sherman claimed that “we believe the appeals court made the wrong decision and will continue fighting to bring this product back into the market place”.