Issue Date: January 16, 2006
Roche signs novel biotech deals
Roche last week signed two agreements with biotech companies that involve licensing compounds in development to its partners. The Swiss drug major has agreed to license to Evotec two monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) inhibitors in Phase I clinical development for Alzheimer's disease. Roche also signed a research collaboration with Amira Pharmaceuticals under which Roche will use its screening capabilities to investigate three mutually agreed upon targets in the field of inflammatory diseases. Both deals are unusual in that a large drug company is licensing compounds to small biotech specialists. The deal with Amira is also atypical in that the firm's venture-capital funders-Avalon Ventures, Prospect Ventures, and Versant Ventures-stand to profit early from their investment in the year-old firm. "Through this model we are creating a 'win-win-win' deal structure," says Peter Hug, Roche's global head of pharma partnering. Roche will screen its compound repository against three targets and transmit hits to Amira. Roche will have opt-in rights on two of the programs. If Roche exercises this option, Amira could receive up to $287 million in total payments, plus royalties. Alternatively, Amira will have a one-year option to license two of Roche's existing clinical-stage programs. Roche would receive Amira stock and up to $20 million in milestone payments plus royalties.
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