Array is celebrating news that Novartis has decided to hand back rights to the MEK inhibitor binimetinib, currently in three Phase III trials for advanced melanoma and ovarian cancer.

Novartis’ move to step away from the multi-million-dollar alliance comes on the back of its separate deal to buy GlaxoSmithKline’s cancer drugs, under which it gains the latter’s already approved MEK inhibitor, Mekinist.

As such, Array will now receive up to $85 million and Novartis' global, exclusive license to binimetinib will terminate with all rights reverting to the firm. Novartis has also agreed to provide transitional regulatory, clinical development and manufacturing services and will assign to Array patent and other intellectual property rights it owns relating to the drug.

Array shareholders have welcomed the news because it means the firm will benefit from continued support throughout the drug’s development but stands to reap greater rewards if it makes it to market. "Regaining full worldwide rights to binimetinib, an innovative late-stage oncology product, represents a tremendous opportunity for Array," said Ron Squarer, Array’s chief executive. 

The firm is expecting to file its first regulatory approval during the first half of 2016, and with this agreement, is “in a strong position to successfully develop and commercialise binimetinib to the benefit of cancer patients,” he added.