GlaxoSmithKline has signed a cancer pact with fellow UK firm Oxford BioTherapeutics which could be worth up to £244 million.

The companies plan to develop antibodies for the treatment of primary, metastatic and recurring forms of cancer. GSK will develop the therapies against selected OBT targets, while the privately-held biotechnology group will develop one of its own monoclonal antibodies through to proof of concept. At that point, GSK will have an exclusive option to in-license it.

Cashwise, OBT will receive an undisclosed upfront payment and will be eligible for up to £244 million in milestones. It could also receive double-digit royalties on sales of any product that it develops to proof of concept and single-digit royalties on marketed GSK antibody products aimed at OBT targets.

It is a busy time for GSK which has also announced that “several countries” have placed orders to stockpile a candidate influenza A (H1N1) vaccine, as the swine flu outbreak continues to spread. The drugs major says it will manufacture the product once the World Health Organisation supplies the virus seed and initial doses of the vaccine, which would also contain GSK's adjuvant system AS03, would be available four to six months later, pending regulatory approval.

The firm has agreed to supply the H1N1 vaccine to the UK, which has secured 60 million doses, while France, Belgium and Finland intend to purchase 50 million, 12.6 million and 5.3 million doses, respectively. As capacity increases, GSK will supply the candidate vaccine to developing countries “under a tiered-pricing policy based on World Bank classifications and Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation eligibility”.

As of this morning, the World Health Organisation has raised its tally of confirmed human cases of swine flu to 8,480 in 39 countries, including 72 deaths.

Lunesta filing pulled in EU
Meantime, GSK and partner Sepracor have decided not to market Lunivia (eszopiclone), sold in the USA as Lunesta, in the European Union.

In a regulatory filing in the USA. Sepracor notes that the drug received a positive opinion from the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use last October. However the EMEA has declined to designate the drug as a new active substance, a move which damages its commercial prospects.