Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and Nektar Therapeutics announced the companies have executed a global strategic development and commercialization collaboration for Nektar’s lead immuno-oncology program, NKTR-214. Under the collaboration, the companies will jointly develop and commercialize NKTR-214 in combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo (nivolumab) and Opdivo plus Yervoy (ipilimumab) in more than 20 indications across 9 tumor types, as well as potential combinations with other anti-cancer agents from either of the respective companies and/or third parties.

NKTR-214, a CD122-biased agonist, is an investigational immuno-stimulatory therapy designed to selectively expand cancer-fighting T cells and natural killer (NK) cells directly in the tumor micro-environment and increase PD-1 expression on those immune cells.

“We are excited to bring our leading capabilities and expertise in developing cancer therapies together with Nektar’s innovative science to jointly develop and commercialize NKTR-214 in combination with Opdivo and Opdivo plus Yervoy,” said Giovanni Caforio, M.D., Chairman and CEO, Bristol-Myers Squibb. “Bristol-Myers Squibb has established Opdivo plus Yervoy as the only approved immunotherapy combination for cancer patients and built a robust oncology pipeline. With this commitment to the development of NKTR-214, an investigational therapy designed with a unique approach to harnessing the full potential of the interleukin-2 pathway, we now have a third validated I-O mechanism that has demonstrated a clinical benefit in patients, and holds significant potential to expand the benefits that these immuno-oncology agents can bring to patients with cancer.”

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Nektar have agreed to a joint clinical development plan to evaluate NKTR-214 with Opdivo and Opdivo plus Yervoy in registration-enabling clinical trials in more than 20 indications in 9 tumor types including melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer, bladder and triple negative breast cancer. Pivotal studies in renal cell carcinoma and melanoma are expected to be initiated in mid-2018.

“Bristol-Myers Squibb, the global leader in immuno-oncology, is the ideal collaborator to enable us to establish NKTR-214 as a backbone immunotherapy in the treatment of cancer,” said Howard Robin, President & CEO of Nektar. "NKTR-214’s ability to grow tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in vivo and replenish the immune system is critically important as many patients battling cancer lack sufficient TIL populations to benefit from approved checkpoint inhibitor therapies. This strategic collaboration allows us to very quickly develop NKTR-214 with the leading approved PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor in numerous registrational trials. We look forward to our continued relationship with Bristol-Myers Squibb as we work together to advance cancer treatment for patients around the world."

Transaction Terms

Under the terms of the agreement, Bristol-Myers Squibb will make an upfront cash payment of USD 1.0 billion and an equity investment of USD 850 million (8,284,600 shares of Nektar’s common stock at USD 102.60 per share). Bristol-Myers Squibb has agreed to certain lock-up, standstill and voting provisions on its share ownership for a period of five years subject to certain specified exceptions.

Nektar is also eligible to receive an additional USD 1.78 billion in milestones, of which USD 1.43 billion are development and regulatory milestones and the remainder are sales milestones. Nektar will book revenue for worldwide sales of NKTR-214 and the companies will split global profits for NKTR-214 with Nektar receiving 65 percent and Bristol-Myers Squibb 35 percent. Bristol-Myers Squibb will retain 100 percent of product revenues for its own medicines. The parties also will share development costs relative to their ownership interest of medicines included in the trials. For trials in the joint clinical development plan that include NKTR-214 with Opdivo only, the parties will share development costs with 67.5 percent allocated to Bristol-Myers Squibb and 32.5 percent allocated to Nektar. For trials in the joint clinical development plan that include NKTR-214 with Opdivo and Yervoy, the parties will share development costs with 78 percent allocated to Bristol-Myers Squibb and 22 percent allocated to Nektar.

Both Bristol-Myers Squibb and Nektar have agreed for a specified period of time to not commence development with overlapping mechanisms of action in the same indications as those included in the joint clinical development plan. The parties are otherwise free to develop NKTR-214 with their own pipeline assets and/or any other third party compounds. Both parties have agreed to initiate registration-enabling studies in the joint clinical development plan within 14 months of the effective date of the agreement, subject to allowable delays.

Both parties will jointly commercialize NKTR-214 on a global basis. Bristol-Myers Squibb will lead global commercialization activities for NKTR-214 combinations with Bristol-Myers Squibb medicines and Nektar will co-commercialize such combinations in the US, major EU markets and Japan. Nektar will lead global commercialization activities for NKTR-214 combinations with either Nektar medicines and/or other third-party medicines.

For Bristol-Myers Squibb, the transactions are expected to be dilutive in 2018 and 2019 to the company’s non-GAAP EPS by USD 0.02 and USD 0.10, respectively. Nektar and Bristol-Myers Squibb currently expect to complete the transaction during the second quarter of 2018, subject to the expiration or termination of applicable waiting periods under all applicable US antitrust laws and the satisfaction of other usual and customary closing conditions. Further details of the agreement can be found in Nektar’s Form 8-K filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sidley Austin LLP is acting as legal counsel to Nektar for the strategic collaboration agreement and equity investment.

Nektar and Bristol-Myers Squibb entered into a clinical collaboration in September of 2016 to evaluate the potential for the combination of Opdivo and NKTR-214 to show improved and sustained efficacy and tolerability above the current standard of care. The Phase 1/2 PIVOT clinical study is ongoing in over 350 patients with melanoma, kidney, non-small cell lung cancer, bladder, and triple-negative breast cancers. – Medical Buyer Bureau 

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