BOTHELL - Seattle Genetics, Inc. (Nasdaq: SGEN) and Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced two new strategic oncology collaborations.
The companies will globally develop and commercialize Seattle Genetics' ladiratuzumab vedotin, an investigational antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) targeting LIV-1, which is currently in phase 2 clinical trials for breast cancer and other solid tumors.
The collaboration will pursue a broad joint development program evaluating ladiratuzumab vedotin as monotherapy and in combination with Merck's anti-PD-1 therapy KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) in triple-negative breast cancer, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer and other LIV-1-expressing solid tumors. Under the terms of the agreement, Seattle Genetics will receive a $600 million upfront payment and Merck will make a $1.0 billion equity investment in 5.0 million shares of Seattle Genetics common stock at a price of $200 per share. In addition, Seattle Genetics is eligible for progress-dependent milestone payments of up to $2.6 billion.
Separately, Seattle Genetics has granted Merck an exclusive license to commercialize TUKYSA (tucatinib), a small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor, for the treatment of HER2-positive cancers, in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America and other regions outside of the U.S., Canada and Europe. Seattle Genetics will receive $125 million from Merck as an upfront payment and is eligible for progress-dependent milestones of up to $65 million.
'Collaborating with Merck on ladiratuzumab vedotin will allow us to accelerate and broaden its development program in breast cancer and other solid tumors, including in combination with Merck's KEYTRUDA, while also positioning us to leverage our U.S. and European commercial operations,' said Clay Siegall, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Seattle Genetics. 'The strategic collaboration for TUKYSA will help us reach more patients globally and benefit from the established commercial strength of one of the world's premier pharmaceutical companies.'
'These two strategic collaborations will enable us to further diversify Merck's broad oncology portfolio and pipeline, and to continue our efforts to extend and improve the lives of as many patients with cancer as possible,' said Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, President, Merck Research Laboratories. 'We look forward to working with the team at Seattle Genetics to advance the clinical program for ladiratuzumab vedotin, which has shown compelling signals of efficacy in early studies, and to bring TUKYSA to even more patients with cancer around the world.'
Ladiratuzumab Vedotin Collaboration Details
Under the terms of the agreement, Seattle Genetics and Merck will collaborate and equally share costs on the global development of ladiratuzumab vedotin and other LIV-1-targeting ADCs. The companies have agreed to jointly develop and share future costs and profits for ladiratuzumab vedotin on a 50:50 basis worldwide. Merck will pay Seattle Genetics$600 million upfront and make a $1.0 billion equity investment in 5.0 million shares of Seattle Genetics common stock at a price of $200 per share. In addition, Seattle Genetics will be eligible to receive up to $2.6 billion in milestone payments, including $850 million in development milestones and $1.75 billion in sales milestones.
The companies will jointly develop and commercialize ladiratuzumab vedotin and equally share profits worldwide. The companies will co-commercialize in the U.S. and Europe. Seattle Genetics will be responsible for marketing applications for approval in the U.S. and Canada, and will record sales in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Merck will be responsible for marketing applications for approval in Europe and in countries outside the U.S. and Canada, and will record sales in countries outside the U.S., Europe and Canada. Including the upfront payment, equity investment proceeds and potential milestone payments, Seattle Genetics is eligible to receive up to $4.2 billion.
The closing of the equity investment is contingent on completion of review under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (HSR Act).
TUKYSA Collaboration Details
Under the terms of the agreement, Merck has been granted exclusive rights to commercialize TUKYSA in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America and other regions outside of the U.S., Canada and Europe. Seattle Genetics retains commercial rights and will record sales in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Merck will be responsible for marketing applications for approval in its territory, supported by the positive results from the HER2CLIMB clinical trial.
Merck will also co-fund a portion of the TUKYSA global development plan, which encompasses several ongoing and planned trials across HER2-positive cancers, including breast, colorectal, gastric and other cancers set forth in a global product development plan. Seattle Genetics will continue to lead ongoing TUKYSA global development planning and operational execution. Merck will solely fund and conduct country-specific clinical trials necessary to support anticipated regulatory applications in its territory.
Seattle Genetics will receive from Merck$125 million as an upfront payment and is eligible to receive progress-dependent milestones of up to $65 million. Seattle Genetics will also receive $85 million in prepaid research and development payments to be applied to Merck's global development funding obligations. In addition, Seattle Genetics would receive tiered royalties on sales of TUKYSA in Merck's territory.
The financial impact of these collaborations is not included in Seattle Genetics' 2020 guidance.
About Ladiratuzumab Vedotin
Ladiratuzumab vedotin is a novel investigational ADC targeted to LIV-1. Most metastatic breast cancers express LIV-1, which also has been detected in several other cancers, including lung, head and neck, esophageal and gastric. Ladiratuzumab vedotin utilizes Seattle Genetics' proprietary ADC technology and consists of a LIV-1-targeted monoclonal antibody linked to a potent microtubule-disrupting agent, monomethyl auristatin E (MMAE) by a protease-cleavable linker. This novel ADC is designed to bind to LIV-1 on cancer cells and release the cell-killing agent into target cells upon internalization. Ladiratuzumab vedotin may also cause antitumor activity through other mechanisms, including activation of an immune response by induction of immunogenic cell death.
About TUKYSA (tucatinib)
TUKYSA is an oral, small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) of HER2, a protein that contributes to cancer cell growth. TUKYSA in combination with trastuzumab and capecitabine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April 2020 for adult patients with advanced unresectable or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer, including patients with brain metastases, who have received one or more prior anti-HER2-based regimens in the metastatic setting. In addition, TUKYSA received approval in Canada, Singapore, Australia and Switzerland under the Project Orbis initiative of the FDA Oncology Center of Excellence that provides a framework for concurrent submission and review of oncology products among international partners. A marketing application is under review in the European Union.
About KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) Injection, 100 mg
KEYTRUDA is an anti-PD-1 therapy that works by increasing the ability of the body's immune system to help detect and fight tumor cells. KEYTRUDA is a humanized monoclonal antibody that blocks the interaction between PD-1 and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2, thereby activating T lymphocytes which may affect both tumor cells and healthy cells.
Merck has the industry's largest immuno-oncology clinical research program. There are currently more than 1,200 trials studying KEYTRUDA across a wide variety of cancers and treatment settings. The KEYTRUDA clinical program seeks to understand the role of KEYTRUDA across cancers and the factors that may predict a patient's likelihood of benefitting from treatment with KEYTRUDA, including exploring several different biomarkers.
About Seattle Genetics
Seattle Genetics, Inc. is a global biotechnology company that discovers, develops and commercializes transformative cancer medicines to make a meaningful difference in people's lives. ADCETRIS (brentuximab vedotin) and PADCEV (enfortumab vedotin-ejfv) use the company's industry-leading antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) technology. ADCETRIS is approved in certain CD30-expressing lymphomas, and PADCEV is approved in certain metastatic urothelial cancers. TUKYSA (tucatinib), a small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor, is approved in certain HER2-positive metastatic breast cancers. The company is headquartered in the Seattle, Washington area, with locations in California, Switzerland and the European Union.
Merck's Focus on Cancer
Our goal is to translate breakthrough science into innovative oncology medicines to help people with cancer worldwide. At Merck, the potential to bring new hope to people with cancer drives our purpose and supporting accessibility to our cancer medicines is our commitment. As part of our focus on cancer, Merck is committed to exploring the potential of immuno-oncology with one of the largest development programs in the industry across more than 30 tumor types. We also continue to strengthen our portfolio through strategic acquisitions and are prioritizing the development of several promising oncology candidates with the potential to improve the treatment of advanced cancers.
For more than 125 years, Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world's most challenging diseases in pursuit of our mission to save and improve lives. We demonstrate our commitment to patients and population health by increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to prevent and treat diseases that threaten people and animals including cancer, infectious diseases such as HIV and Ebola, and emerging animal diseases as we aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world.
Forward Looking Statements for Seattle Genetics
Certain of the statements made in this press release are forward looking, such as those, among others, relating to Seattle Genetics' sale of shares of its common stock to Merck, receipt of upfront payments and potential receipt of milestone payments under the ladiratuzumab vedotin and TUKYSA collaborations and potential royalty payments under the TUKYSA collaboration; the potential to broaden and advance the development of ladiratuzumab vedotin and TUKYSA and accelerate the availability of TUKYSA to additional cancer patients around the world; as well as any other statements that are not historical fact. Actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected or implied in these forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause such a difference include, without limitation, risks and uncertainties related to: the completion of the sale of Seattle Genetics common stock to Merck including the ability to obtain clearance under the HSR Act; Seattle Genetics' ability to maintain the ladiratuzumab vedotin and TUKYSA collaborations, including the risk that if Merck were to breach or terminate either collaboration, Seattle Genetics would not obtain the anticipated financial and other benefits of the collaboration and the development and/or commercialization of ladiratuzumab vedotin or TUKYSA could be delayed, perhaps substantially; the possibility that Seattle Genetics and Merck may not be successful in their development efforts under either collaboration and that, even if successful, Seattle Genetics and Merck may be unable to successfully commercialize ladiratuzumab vedotin and TUKYSA and the duration and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting global economic, financial, and healthcare system disruptions. More information about the risks and uncertainties faced by Seattle Genetics is contained under the caption 'Risk Factors' included in the company's Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2020 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Seattle Genetics disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.
Forward-Looking Statement of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA
This news release of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (the 'company') includes 'forward-looking statements' within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of the company's management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. There can be no guarantees with respect to pipeline products that the products will receive the necessary regulatory approvals or that they will prove to be commercially successful. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.
Risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to, general industry conditions and competition; general economic factors, including interest rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; the impact of the global outbreak of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19); the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation in the United States and internationally; global trends toward health care cost containment; technological advances, new products and patents attained by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development, including obtaining regulatory approval; the company's ability to accurately predict future market conditions; manufacturing difficulties or delays; financial instability of international economies and sovereign risk; dependence on the effectiveness of the company's patents and other protections for innovative products and the exposure to litigation, including patent litigation, and/or regulatory actions.
The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in the company's 2019 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company's other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC's Internet site (www.sec.gov).