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Merck Licenses Head and Neck Cancer Drug From Debiopharm for Up to $1.1 Billion

Merck will pay $227 million upfront for the global rights to Xevinapant and up to $855 million in milestone payments.

Image: Mode of action of xevinapant (Debio 1143). Source: Debiopharm

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s Merck KGgA said on Monday it has agreed to pay Swiss biotech Debiopharm up to 900 million euros ($1.08 billion) to develop and commercialize Xevinapant for head and neck cancer.

Under the terms of the licensing deal, Merck will pay Debiopharm 188 million euros ($227 million) upfront and has agreed to further regulatory and commercial milestones worth up to 710 million euros ($855 million) as well as royalties.

“This late-stage asset complements our Healthcare pipeline, which will be one of Merck’s key growth drivers in the coming years,” Chief Executive Stefan Oschmann said in a statement.

Xevinapant is currently in late-stage testing for previously untreated locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, in combination with current standard of care.

Results of a mid-stage study found Xevinapant together with chemoradiotherapy cut the risk of death by 51% compared to the current standard of care, Merck said.

In February 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Xevinapant breakthrough therapy designation.

($1 = 0.8300 euros)

Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Riham Alkousaa.


Source: Reuters

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