Bristol-Myers Partners With Janssen on Anticlotting Therapy

(Bloomberg) -- Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said it will collaborate with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit to develop a follow-up to blockbuster anticlotting drug Eliquis.

Bristol-Myers will be paid an undisclosed, upfront sum by Janssen, with further payments dependent on the compound reaching certain regulatory milestones, according to a news release. Bristol and Janssen will share costs to develop and bring the therapy to market, and commercial profits if it’s approved by U.S. regulators.

The drug, BMS-986177, is being studied as an inhibitor to factor XIa, which can activate a cascade of blood coagulation and increase the risk of stroke and deep-vein thrombosis if elevated.

Christoph Koenen, head of cardiovascular development at Bristol-Myers, said that based on genetic and preclinical data, “we believe this asset can provide a new balance” in anticoagulation while causing less bleeding in patients. The companies expect the therapy to advance to Phase 2 clinical trials for secondary stroke later in 2018, the news release said.

The companies are focusing on secondary stroke because it has the highest unmet patient need, Koenen said.

“We knew we wanted to partner this asset because this asset has a whole range of potential indications that are complicated to develop,” Koenen said in a phone interview. The New York-based company partnered with Janssen because it brings “extensive knowledge in the space of both anticoagulation as well as cardiovascular disease, and on the other hand shares our ambition level when it comes to the potential benefit this asset can bring to patients.”

Koenen said BMS-986177 is an important to diversifying Bristol-Myers’ portfolio. The company’s Eliquis blood thinner totaled $1.36 billion in sales in the fourth quarter. Bristol-Myers sells Eliquis in partnership with Pfizer Inc.

“Our commitment to Eliquis will remain unchanged,” said Koenen. “We do however think there’s a lot of room for innovation within the broader cardiovascular space.”

Bristol-Myers shares fell 7.8 percent to $54.08 at 4 p.m. in New York, the biggest intraday decline since January 2017, after rival Merck & Co. reported strong lung-cancer data that raised questions about the prospects for Bristol-Myers’ competing drug.

“The idea would be that this would be an oral, daily medication, and its use would be to prevent life-threatening thrombosis,” said James List, the global therapeutic area head of cardiovascular and metabolism at Janssen.

He said Janssen already is exploring broader uses for its anticoagulant, Xarelto, and has an injectible anticoagulant, JNJ-9375, in its pipeline. “It’s really a next-generation approach that we’re very excited about.”

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