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Incyte signs $100M+ Chinese licensing deal

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Incyte has signed a $114 million licensing deal for tafasitamab in China with InnoCare. | DBT PHOTO BY MIKE ROCHELEAU

WILMINGTON – Incyte Corp. announced Monday that it has signed a collaboration and license agreement valued at up to $117.5 million with InnoCare, a Chinese biopharmaceutical company.

The deal gives Beijing-based InnoCare the rights to develop and commercialize tafasitamab, also known by its brand name Monjuvi, in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Tafasitamab is a monoclonal antibody used in a combination therapy for treating adults with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. The intravenous drug received accelerated approval in July 2020 from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for treatment of the most-common non-Hodgkin cancer of B-lymphocytes that isn’t responding to other treatments. It has also received positive feedback in Europe this year but still awaits final approval. 

According to recent research, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma cases already number more than 70,000 annually in the U.S. and major developed nations, with estimates for an increase in 15% over the next decade.

“The collaboration with InnoCare allows us to accelerate the expansion of our partnered portfolio in China,” said Hervé Hoppenot, CEO of Incyte, in a statement announcing the deal. “We believe InnoCare will be an excellent partner to accelerate the development of tafasitamab, and if approved, help bring this innovative therapy to patients and healthcare providers in Greater China.” 

Under the terms of the agreement, InnoCare will pay Incyte $35 million up front, and Incyte is eligible to receive up to an additional $82.5 million in potential development, regulatory and commercial milestones, as well as tiered royalties.

The transaction is effective immediately upon the execution of the collaboration and license agreement.

“The strategic collaboration with Incyte will not only enhance our strength in the field of hematology and oncology, but also offer us good opportunity to explore the potential clinical benefit of our BTK inhibitor orelabrutinib in combination with tafasitamab,” said Dr. Jasmine Cui, co-founder, chairwoman and CEO of InnoCare, in a statement, referring to the drug used to suppress and kill malignant B cells. “In addition, we believe that tafasitamab, an innovative CD19 antibody, is critical to solidifying our long-term strategy to strengthen our large-molecule capabilities and to enhance combinational therapies with our existing pipelines.”

Incyte, the billion-dollar biopharma firm headquartered in the Wilmington suburbs, did not develop tafasitamab, but bought into a collaboration agreement with German firm MorphoSys in January 2020 for $750 million in cash and $150 million in stock purchases. Incyte gained exclusive commercialization rights to the medicine outside of the United States in the deal, while sharing development costs and commercialization costs in the country.

Under the deal, MorphoSys is also eligible for milestone payments of up to $1.1 billion, and tiered royalties on net sales outside the U.S.

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