Oncology remains hot area for deal making as CNS shows a surge

Analysis

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
Systemic Anti-infectives 91 100 -9% 102 107 347 208 67% 88 160 1,757 1,917 -8% 1,195 1,994
Gastro-Intestinal 55 63 -13% 55 56 251 467 -46% 30 268 2,001 3,293 -39% 450 1,354
Dermatology 47 43 9% 42 45 36 17 108% 41 131 64 119 -47% 100 1,806
Cardiovascular 43 43 0% 56 44 148 115 28% 366 172 2,171 1,584 37% 2,523 1,426
Endocrine 42 30 40% 50 41 348 149 134% 123 251 4,051 1,672 142% 1,356 3,866
Musculoskeletal 39 49 -20% 47 48 194 376 -48% 417 502 2,724 3,177 -14% 3,852 3,354
Respiratory 36 39 -8% 40 53 80 247 -68% 290 69 1,313 528 149% 1,470 1,215
Genito-Urinary 33 38 -13% 29 36 259 102 154% 3 112 1,381 724 91% 3 575
Blood 23 29 -21% 32 37 143 151 -6% 42 292 1,165 1,073 9% 557 1,252
Sensory Organs 21 43 -51% 20 27 105 6 1650% 27 13 818 12 7013% 505 202
Various 47 31 52% 22 46 39 130 -70% - 170 827 1,423 -42% - 690
Annual Totals 780 803 -3% 832 908 3,503 4,589 -24% 3,397 3,493 30,547 32,677 -7% 30,342 35,876


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.

Stand out

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.

Opportunities

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
Systemic Anti-infectives 16 4 15 11 19 1 1 67
Musculoskeletal 11 3 7 6 9 3 1 40
Cardiovascular 9 1 9 5 11 1 3 39
Gastro-Intestinal 5 2 12 3 12 1 3 38
Endocrine 3 4 6 5 7 5 2 32
Genito-Urinary 9 4 6 7 1 2 1 30
Dermatology 6 1 8 8 0 23
Respiratory 1 1 9 3 5 2 0 21
Various 1 1 1 5 1 3 2 14
Blood 3 4 1 5 0 13
Sensory Organs 1 1 1 2 4 1 1 11
Total 1 1
Grand Total 87 48 144 108 187 53 20 647

All data sourced to EvaluatePharma. EvaluatePharma's Partnering Opportunities is based on information disclosed and submitted by companies.

Share This Article