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BMS receives $625 million patent settlement boost from Merck

Published on 23/01/17 at 10:22am

Bristol-Myers Squibb were in desperate need of releasing good news after the brief announcement that it would no longer be pursuing an accelerated regulatory pathway for Opdivo with Yervoy, and it revealed some with the news that it had reached a patent infringement settlement with MSD (known as Merck in North America).

The case related to the patent-infringement with MSD’s immunotherapy treatment Keytruda, and will see BMS receive $625 million in cash and a 6.5% royalty on sales for the next six years. After 2023, this will be reduced to a 2.5% proportion of sales. The fee and sales will be shared between BMS and Ono Pharmaceuticals.

MSD’s chairman and CEO Kenneth Frazier said: “Today’s announcement eliminates uncertainty and enables us to continue to focus on Keytruda, our immuno-oncology medicine, which is already helping thousands of patients around the world and becoming a foundation for the treatment of cancer through our industry-leading clinical development program.”

There is no doubt now where the momentum lies between Keytruda and Opdivo – with Opdivo’s announcement that it would no longer be pushing for an accelerated regulatory pathway for the combination of Opdivo with Yervoy in first-line patients suffering from lung cancer. MSD, by comparison, recently had Keytruda accepted for Priority Review for combination treatment. Depending upon the decision made on this, Keytruda looks well-placed to establish itself as the frontrunner in the field – if not yet on-par on sales with Opdivo.

The silver lining for BMS is that any success that MSD achieves with Keytruda will now be passed onto themselves through royalties – though it will be cold comfort after the major failure last year of Opdivo for first-line treatment, already achieved by Keytruda, and the setback it has suffered exploring combination treatment.

Ben Hargreaves

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