Tuesday, May 27, 2008
More Reflections on Alnylam-Takeda Deal
With the strong financial position thus secured, for future deals we should expect to see a gradual shift from upfront cash-loaded deals towards those with a focus on the long-term strategic goal of maximizing the upside from the actual sale of RNAi Therapeutics. Opt-in rights, including the option to wait until the rather late stage of phase III trial start and yet gain 50:50 US co-development rights for promising drug candidates, are an important component of that strategy. And while we haven’t heard about the royalty rates, they should be “significant”.
Alnylam’s achievement of pioneering such a wide-reaching platform licensing strategy is both envied but at the same time also respected and admired by its peers, and unprecedented for biotech, including competing nucleic acid platform technologies, and points towards an important part of the future of drug development. In the words of John Maraganore, RNAi has become the big thirst quencher for innovation by the pharmaceutical industry, and Alnylam’s know-how and IP are the beer and tap for that.
Novartis looks to be the next to order a drink from Alnylam’s bar as it is now likely that it will exercise its right to more recent IP and enablement to put it on par with Roche and Takeda. Although the conversion of Novartis’ relationship with Alnylam is on pre-negotiated terms and will not necessarily follow the current $50M price tag per non-exclusive therapeutic area, John Maraganore assured analysts and investors that they were unlikely to be disappointed, especially since double-digit million dollar platform deals do not justify any more Alnylam’s deal efforts. After Novartis, the question then begs as to which US pharmaceutical is keen to gain first access to Alnylam-enabled near-term RNAi Therapeutics opportunities.
For those interested in following further developments in this story including the mechanics of Alnylam’s platform alliances, tomorrow’s special Annual Shareholder Meeting by Tekmira which will seal its reunification with Protiva and whose delivery technology is driving many of these first generation RNAi Therapeutics platform deals, is the place to turn your attention to.
Clarification: In my earlier post, I suggested that the $50M “near-term technology transfer payments” may be due if not as early as tomorrow on the close of Tekmira and Protiva, when Tekmira and Takeda will finalize their relationship. While much of the $50M may still relate to SNALP-RNAi, the company has now guided that the amount will be paid out, largely under the control of Alnylam, within 36 months and I guess could also be partly for tax efficiency purposes.
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