Vertex puts a blockbuster valuation on its Crispr deal

The third iteration of Vertex and Crispr’s collaboration over CTX001, a gene-editing therapy for rare blood clotting disorders, shows how hopes for the project have ballooned. Vertex is paying $900m up front, plus a potential $200m milestone on first approval, to up its share of profits and costs from 50% to 60%. If Vertex is valuing 10% of profits at $1.1bn, an admittedly simplistic calculation suggests that it thinks CTX001 is now worth $11bn, a punchy sum that will raise expectations ahead of readouts later this year from sickle cell and beta-thalassaemia studies. Such blockbuster forecasts seem particularly optimistic on the day that Bluebird admitted defeat with its beta-thalassaemia gene therapy Zynteglo in Germany, where payers have baulked at the price; Vertex is apparently convinced that CTX001 is a more persuasive offering. The big US biotech is certainly cash rich, although some investors will probably be asking whether that billion dollars might be better deployed in a spreading of bets, rather than doubling down on an asset that still has much to prove. A further is question is what the move says about the chances of success for VX-864, on which data are also due.

The evolution of a deal 
Date Detail Terms
Oct 2015 Gene editing collaboration established; Vertex gains rights to license up to six projects Vertex pays $105m up front (incl $30m equity purchase); agrees to pay milestones of up to $420m on any project licensed in; costs and sales to be shared equally on any project taken forward in haemoglobinopathies, with Crispr leading US commercialisation
Dec 2017 CTX001 selected as first gene-edited therapy to be developed Any new terms undisclosed
Apr 2021  Deal amended to give Vertex global lead on development, manufacturing and commercialisation, and a 60% share of costs and profits Vertex pays $900m plus potential $200m milestone on first regulatory approval for additional 10% profit share
Source: company press releases. 

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