Roche reaches deep once again

Targeted oncology projects are among the hottest property to be found in biopharma right now, but the amount of cash that Roche is handing over to Blueprint is still impressive. The $650m that the Swiss pharma giant is paying up front for rights to pralsetinib ranks as the seventh largest initial payment made over the last five years. The table below includes single-product licensing deals struck over projects that were in clinical development at the time. The pralsetinib sum reflects the scarcity value that these genetically-specific agents carry, and a likely competitive deal process; after paying $1.7bn for Ignyta in late 2017, for the Ros1/NTRK targeted Rozlytrek, Roche was clearly motivated to add another product like it. Notably, only late last year Roche was writing another huge cheque, this time to Sarepta for ex-US rights to its Duchenne muscular dystrophy gene therapy SRP-9001. The Swiss firm is not one of big pharma’s biggest spenders, a previous Evaluate Vantage analysis found, although it does invest more in R&D than its peers (Roche and Lilly most vested in research, July 3, 2020). Perhaps these recent deals point to a growing willingness at Roche to look outside its own labs.

Big bucks: largest up fronts paid for clinical-stage projects, since 2015

Project (status at deal)
Company Deal partner Upfront value ($m)
Enhertu (phase III)  Astrazeneca Daiichi Sankyo 1,350
Bempegaldesleukin (NKTR-214, phase II) Bristol-Myers Squibb Nektar  1,000
Ralinepag (phase III) United Therapeutics Arena 800
SRP-9001 (phase II) Roche Sarepta  750
Tafasitamab (filed) Incyte Morphosys 750
Pralsetinib (phase III) Roche Blueprint Medicines 650
Libtayo (phase I) Sanofi Regeneron  650
BI 655064 (phase I) Abbvie Boehringer Ingelheim  595
Imfinzi (phase III)* Celgene Astrazeneca 450
Etranacogene dezaparvovec (phase III) CSL Uniqure 450
Note: Single-product deals only, excludes any equity investments made as part of deal. *Deal covered haematological cancers only, in which clinical work was at very early stages.  Source: EvaluatePharma. 

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