Janssen has entered two new license agreements. First, the firm forged a license agreement with Evotec regarding Evotec’s NR2B subtype-selective NMDA-antagonist portfolio for development against diseases in the field of depression, under which Janssen has been granted an exclusive worldwide license to a series of small molecule drug candidates. Janssen has the right to further develop the compounds and market the resulting products. Janssen Research & Development, an affiliate of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, will conduct the clinical development work under the agreement.
Evotec will receive an upfront payment of $2 million with an additional $6 million to be paid upon confirmation of certain preclinical properties of the candidates. Evotec is eligible to receive additional milestone payments from Janssen, which may total up to $67 million, as well as additional, reduced milestone payments. Evotec shall be entitled to receive an additional $100 million in commercial milestones, which could be as high as double-digit on certain future sales of royalty-bearing products. Evotec will share portions of the payments with F. Hoffmann-La Roche, which originally discovered the molecules.
The compounds in the portfolio are orally active NR2B subtype-selective NMDA-antagonists, which were developed from discovery stages through to clinical studies by Evotec. In 2009 Roche entered into a $300 million agreement with Evotec for Phase II clinical development of the portfolio compounds in patients with treatment-resistant depression; this collaboration was terminated in 2011. The rights licensed hereunder are those that Evotec retained to the portfolio of compounds.
This isn’t the first agreement Evotec has made with Janssen: in July, Evotec licensed a portfolio of small molecules and biologics designed to trigger the regeneration of insulin-producing beta cells to Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Janssen received exclusive access to a series of candidates designed to trigger the regeneration of insulin-producing beta cells. The agreement triggered an upfront payment of $8 million, and Janssen will, under terms of the deal, make future milestone payments of up to a total of about $200 million to $300 million per product to Evotec and Harvard, who are both part of the CureBeta research and development program.
For the second of today’s deals, Janssen Biotech and its affiliates agreed to work with Phenex Pharmaceuticals to jointly discover compounds that target the nuclear hormone receptor RORγT and may have utility in the treatment of chronic autoimmune and inflammatory disorders including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Phenex will receive an up-front payment and milestone payments that could total as much as $135 million. In addition, Phenex will also be eligible to receive tiered royalties and milestones on the worldwide sales of products that arise from the collaboration.
According to the companies, researchers from Phenex and Janssen will work collaboratively toward the goal of identifying compounds that are active against RORγT and optimized for preclinical development. Thereafter, Janssen will have sole responsibility for the continued development and worldwide commercialization of any compounds that arise from the collaboration.
“The up-front payment and near-term milestones that may be achieved through this collaboration are quite important for Phenex as the funds received will make it possible for us to both collaborate with Janssen on RORγT and continue the clinical development of our proprietary FXR program through the next few years,” said Thomas Hoffmann, CFO of Phenex. “By way of this agreement Phenex will be able to fund its operations and does not expect to seek further equity financing. Phenex maintains a favorable and exciting position in its ability to both help the patients who could benefit from RORγT based therapies and provide our shareholders with a satisfactory return on their investments.”