AbbVie has agreed to acquire ImmunoGen for $10.1 billion, the companies said today, in a deal designed to add long-term revenue growth to the buyer’s oncology franchise by accelerating its entry into the commercial market for ovarian cancer.

The deal expands AbbVie’s cancer portfolio with ImmunoGen’s marketed Elahere™ (mirvetuximab and soravtansine-gynx), a first-in-class antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) approved for platinum-resistant ovarian cancer (PROC). Elahere received accelerated approval from the FDA in November 2022 as the first targeted medicine to show meaningful survival benefit in PROC.

AbbVie reasons that Elahere will give it a potential multi-billion-dollar treatment with opportunities to expand its indications into earlier lines of therapy and larger segments of the ovarian cancer market. AbbVie also reasons that it will benefit from ImmunoGen’s commercial and clinical presence in solid tumors, while its pipeline of promising next-generation ADCs complements AbbVie’s own ADC platform and existing programs.

Richard A. Gonzalez, AbbVie’s chairman and CEO

“The acquisition of ImmunoGen demonstrates our commitment to deliver on our long-term growth strategy and enables AbbVie to further diversify our oncology pipeline across solid tumors and hematologic malignancies,” Richard A. Gonzalez, AbbVie’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Together, AbbVie and ImmunoGen have the potential to transform the standard of care for people living with cancer.”

During the third quarter, Elahere generated $105.164 million in net product revenues—a result that that propelled ImmunoGen into its first-ever profitable quarter with net income of $30.748 million, and outperformed consensus estimates from analysts, as Andy T. Hsieh, PhD, a biotechnology analyst with William Blair, noted earlier this month.

For the first nine months of 2023, Elahere racked up $212.079 million in net product revenues, though the company remains in the red, with a net loss of $163.921 million.

“In our view, the acquisition validates the clinical and commercial performance of Elahere in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer (PROC) and could provide an expedited path toward continued expansion of the antibody-drug conjugate (ADC),” Hsieh wrote this morning in a research note. “Pending next year’s closing of the deal, AbbVie will likely be recognized as a formidable player in the ADC space.”

Hsieh downgraded William Blair’s rating on ImmunoGen shares to “Market Perform,” since the firm does not believe a competing offer to buy the company is likely to emerge.

Back in May, GlobalData projected Elahere would reach peak annual sales of $615 million by 2029, based on a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 114%.

New standard of care

Israel Stern, oncology & hematology analyst at GlobalData, noted in May that until now, the standard of care (SOC) for epithelial ovarian, fallopian, and primary peritoneal cancers has consisted of platinum therapies.

“Patients who become resistant to these therapies have been treated with nonplatinum cytotoxic agents, including liposomal doxorubicin, paclitaxel, and topotecan, alone or in combination with Avastin (bevacizumab). ImmunoGen believes Elahere will replace these therapies as a SOC,” Stern said.

Elahere is designed to target folate receptor alpha (FRα) with a maytansinoid payload DM4, a potent tubulin inhibitor designed to kill the targeted cancer cells. Elahere is formally indicated for the treatment of adult patients with FRα positive, platinum-resistant epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer, who have received one to three prior systemic treatment regimens.

AbbVie and ImmunoGen said that positive Phase III results from the MIRASOL confirmatory trial (NCT04209855) will support two future regulatory submissions, a Marketing Authorization Application (MAA) to the European Union and a supplemental Biologic License Application (sBLA) submission to the FDA for full approval.

ImmunoGen has launched ongoing clinical development programs designed to expand Elahere into earlier lines of therapy and enter other large patient segments of the ovarian market over the next 5–10 years.

In acquiring ImmunoGen, AbbVie will inherit both Elahere and ImmunoGen’s follow-on pipeline of next-generation ADCs. One such asset is IMGN-151, a Phase I candidate designed as a next-generation anti-FRα ADC for ovarian cancer with the potential for expansion into other solid tumor indications. Another pipeline asset is pivekimab sunirine, a Phase II anti-CD123 ADC targeting blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN), a rare blood cancer. Pivekimab sunirine has been granted the FDA’s breakthrough therapy designation for the treatment of relapsed/refractory BPDCN.

20+ Candidates, 300+ trials

AbbVie said yesterday its pipeline in oncology includes more than 20 candidate drugs under study in more than 300 clinical trials evaluating 31 development programs across some of the globe’s most widespread and debilitating cancers. Oncology is one of AbbVie’s areas of therapeutic focus, along with immunology, neuroscience, eye care, and aesthetics.

During Q3, oncology was AbbVie’s third largest source of product revenue with $1.512 billion generated by Imbruvica® (ibrutinib), Venclexta® (venetoclax tablets) and Epkinly® (epcoritamab-bysp). However, the Venclextra revenues reflect profit sharing for international revenues since the drug is partnered with Roche subsidiary Genentech—while AbbVie only records profit sharing for U.S. revenues of Epkinly, which has been co-developed and co-marketed with Genmab.

AbbVie agreed to acquire all outstanding shares of ImmunoGen for $31.26 per share in cash—a 95% premium over yesterday’s closing price for ImmunoGen shares of $16.06. The boards of both companies have approved the transaction—which is expected to close in the middle of 2024, subject to ImmunoGen shareholder approval, regulatory approvals, and other customary closing conditions.

AbbVie said it expects its acquisition of ImmunoGen to add to its diluted earnings per share (EPS) beginning in 2027.

“With global commercial infrastructure and deep clinical and regulatory expertise, AbbVie is the right company to accelerate geographic and label expansion, and realize the full potential of ELAHERE as the first and only ADC approved in ovarian cancer,” stated Mark Enyedy, ImmunoGen president and CEO. “The addition of ImmunoGen’s pipeline, platform, and expertise to AbbVie’s oncology portfolio is an exciting opportunity for the combined companies to advance innovation in ADCs. This transaction is the culmination of our 40-year commitment to develop and deliver the next-generation of ADCs and more good days for people living with cancer.”

Alex Philippidis is Senior Business Editor of GEN.

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