Array BioPharma Gains Rights to Novartis’ Cancer Candidate

BioPharma has struck a deal with Novartis Pharma AG for rights to an investigational cancer drug.

Array recently announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Novartis to acquire worldwide rights to encorafenib (LGX818), Novartis’ BRAF inhibitor in development for treatment of skin and colorectal cancer.

The deal is contingent on the closing of transactions announced by Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in April, which are expected to close in the first half of this year. Additionally, the deal remains subject to receipt of regulatory approvals. According to the companies, Array only owes Novartis “a de minimis payment,” and Novartis will provide transitional regulatory, clinical development and manufacturing services, including funding much of the clinical trials underway.

Encorafenib is a potent and highly selective small molecule BRAF inhibitor, which targets a key enzyme in this pathway and has shown clinical activity in a Phase 1 study in advanced tumors including melanoma and metastatic colorectal cancer. A Phase III trial, known as COLUMBUS, is currently enrolling patients with BRAF+ melanoma to evaluate the potential of encorafenib in combination with MEK inhibitor binimetinib. Additionally, the drug is being studied in ten other clinical trials, including BRAF+ colorectal cancer.

Array has already entered into an agreement with Novartis to regain global rights to binimetinib, currently in Phase III development.

“Acquiring worldwide rights to encorafenib, an innovative late-stage oncology product, represents a tremendous opportunity for Array,” said Ron Squarer, Chief Executive Officer, Array BioPharma. “There are currently eleven active encorafenib clinical trials, including the Phase 3 COLUMBUS trial in which encorafenib is being studied in combination with binimetinib for BRAF+ melanoma patients. With rights to both encorafenib and binimetinib, Array would enhance its position to broadly develop and commercialize each product, as well as this MEK/BRAF combination, which may have differentiating advantages when compared to available therapies.”

As part of the deal, Array has agreed to find a partner to help with global development and European commercialization of encorafenib and binimetinib.

Source: Array BioPharma Inc.

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