Considering the enthusiastic scramble into oncology by both big and small drug developers over the last few years it is no revelation that the therapy area chalked up more licensing deals than any other last year. According to an analysis of EvaluatePharma data, deals over 154 cancer products were struck in 2010.
What is more of a surprise is the seeming rebound in the popularity of therapies that act on the central nervous system – after three straight years of declines, 149 of these agents were licensed in 2010, 39% more than in 2009 and the first year in which the therapy area has come close to oncology in terms of deal activity. Signs are these two fields of research are set to remain hot areas for deal making – according to EvaluatePharma’s Partnering Opportunities there are more candidates available for licensing in these two therapy areas than all other areas put together (see tables).
|Product Deals by Therapy Area||Product Count||Upfront Payment ($m)||Deal Value ($m)|
|2010||2009||10 vs. 09||2008||2007||2010||2009||10 vs. 09||2008||2007||2010||2009||10 vs. 09||2008||2007|
|Oncology & Immunomodulators||154||188||-18%||208||193||1,006||1,272||-21%||981||761||7,700||11,200||-31%||9,750||10,619|
|Central Nervous System||149||107||39%||129||175||548||1,349||-59%||988||592||4,576||5,953||-23%||8,582||7,524|
While oncology and immunomodulators remained the most active therapy for deals last year, its reign was certainly not as emphatic. Down 18% on 2009, the tally of products licensed was notably lower than in the previous three years.
At the same time, however, the amount paid out upfront to secure these assets has risen since 2007, albeit dipping slightly in 2010, while total deal values have tracked more closely the volume of deals being signed.
Clearly, these top line deal value figures are heavily influenced by the spread of deals by clinical stage, which is not detailed here. If the majority of these oncology deals were struck over preclinical candidates, for example, a drop in deal values would be expected.
So while CNS deals surged last year, the amount paid in upfronts and total deals values actually fell – likely reflecting a swathe of early stage deals.
The total figures in this table reflect the overal decline seen in deal volume over the last few years, as discussed in this previous analysis (Product deal slow down continues into 2011 - phase II assets remain popular, August 1, 2011)
However, bright spots can be found, and as well as oncology and CNS, another stand-out area in this analysis is endocrine – while the volume of deals appeared to return to historical levels last year, the upfront and total deal value figures were very high, compared to the previous three years.
Deals over diabetes products dominate this space and a number of large transactions were struck here last year, reflecting the growing prevalence of the disease and companies' commitment to the space, despite growing regulatory challenges. Pfizer’s deal with Biocon, Johnson and Johnson’s with Diamyd and Forest Laboratories’ pact with TransTech Pharma all involved signing fees of at least $50m. Meanwhile this year’s deal between Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim, worth $400m upfront, indicates there remains a lot of interest in this space.
As can be expected, data on partnering opportunities available largely tracks the trends seen in deals being struck across the therapy areas.
The table below shows 102 clinical stage oncology assets available for partnering. It is certainly true that smaller drug makers have embraced this therapy area as enthusiastically as big pharma, almost all of which are attempting to carve a presence in the sector.
With notably fewer CNS projects available, the surge in interest seen in this sector last year could well turn out to be a blip.
|Partnering Opportunities by Therapy Area|
|Therapy area||Marketed||Phase III||Phase II||Phase I||Pre-clinical||Research project||Other||Grand Total|
|Oncology & Immunomodulators||9||18||44||40||75||28||1||215|
|Central Nervous System||13||8||22||20||30||6||4||103|
All data sourced to EvaluatePharma. EvaluatePharma's Partnering Opportunities is based on information disclosed and submitted by companies.