Thursday, July 31, 2008

Amgen and J&J: Falling in Love All Over Again

With most of our bloggers on vacation, we haven't yet troubled ourselves to analyze the Bristol bid for ImClone (if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we trust Roche is feeling good). And we didn't jump on Sanofi's buyout of Acambis either. (Thank goodness our colleagues at "The Pink Sheet" DAILY actually work in August!)

But even the dog days of summer can't stop us from taking note of this one: Amgen is giving global rights (except for Japan) to a clinical stage neuropathic pain project to...(drum roll please) Johnson & Johnson.

Considering the companies have spent the past two decades in an endless series of disputes, arbitration and litigation over their last licensing deal, involving a little product called EPO, that is news indeed.

If there ever was a case of adversity bringing people closer together, this is it.

Amgen and J&J have both said that their working relationship has been improved by the all-out effort to save the EPO franchise from regulatory and reimbursement challenges. So much so that Amgen CEO Kevin Sharer told the JP Morgan conference in January that “I never thought I would say this, but this circumstance has made us and J&J quite effective partners.” That may not be much of a silver lining from everything that has befallen EPO--but it sure is hard to imagine the two companies reaching this agreement two years ago, when the only place their executives were likely to exchange confidential information was in court.

Amgen's willingness to deal with J&J also suggests that it really means business when it talks about winnowing down its pipeline. In fact, Amgen has already shown it means business, in fact; Japanese rights to the neuropathic pain compound were already sold as part of a large partnership with Takeda in Japan.

Now the terms. Amgen receives $50 million up front--or a refund of one-quarter of the $200 million Amgen paid to settle antitrust litigation with J&J over EPO last month. Amgen will also receive development milestones of up to $385 million. There are additional commercial milestones and a sales royalty too.

And, no, there is no copromotion agreement.

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