Celgene pays BeiGene $150m as it hands back anti-PD-1 rights

Ahead of its acquisition by Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene has agreed to hand back the development and commercialization rights of solid tumor candidate tislelizumab to Chinese drugmaker BeiGene.

In August 2017, BeiGene inked a deal to acquire Celgene’s commercial operations and portfolio assets in China while handing over the exclusive rights to develop and commercialize its investigational anti-PD1 antibody, BGB-A317 (tislelizumab) for solid tumors outside of the region.

But in a report filed with the SEC yesterday, BeiGene said the two firms have annulled the agreement. “Celgene will pay $150 million [€134 million] to BeiGene and BeiGene will regain full, global development and commercialization rights to tislelizumab,” the firm said.

Image: iStock/amnarj2006

The other terms of the 2017 deal, including BeiGene’s right to exclusively distribute and promote several Celgene drugs in China, have not been changed.

The investigational humanized IgG4 anti–PD-1 monoclonal antibody is designed to minimize binding to FcγR on macrophages. The firm claims it can potentially restore the ability of cytotoxic T‑lymphocytes to kill cancer cells by binding to PD‑1 without activating the receptor, thereby preventing PD‑L1 from engaging PD‑1.

Celgene merger

According to BeiGene, the return of the rights comes in advance of the pending acquisition of Celgene by Bristol-Myers Squibb. The $74 billion merger, announced in January, is on track to close in the third quarter of 2019.

“Our collaboration with Celgene was instrumental for the late-stage clinical development of tislelizumab and has provided us with significant resources to continue our broad clinical program,” said John Oyler, co-founder and CEO of BeiGene.

“As we have been leading most of the ongoing Phase III or potentially registration-enabling trials with a global development organization of over 800 people, we believe that we are well-positioned to continue the development of tislelizumab. I am proud of the work that we have accomplished in collaboration with Celgene and am excited by the tremendous opportunity that we have ahead now that we’ve regained full global rights to tislelizumab.”

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