Astellas, AVEO enter development, commercialization agreement for tivozanib

Astellas Pharma Inc. (TSE: 4503, "Astellas"), a global pharmaceutical company, and AVEO Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVEO, "AVEO") today announced that they have entered into a worldwide agreement outside of Asia to develop and commercialize tivozanib, AVEO's lead product candidate designed to optimally block the VEGF pathway by inhibiting all three VEGF receptors, for the treatment of a broad range of cancers. Tivozanib is currently being investigated in a pivotal, global Phase 3 clinical trial called TIVO-1 comparing the efficacy and safety of tivozanib to sorafenib (Nexavar®) in patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC), as well as in additional clinical studies in other solid tumor types as a single agent and in combination with other anti-cancer agents.

“This collaboration accomplishes the key strategic objectives we were seeking from a partnership for tivozanib which we believe positions us well to realize the full potential value of tivozanib in North America and Europe”

Under the terms of the agreement, AVEO will receive an initial cash payment of $125 million, composed of a $75 million license fee and $50 million in research and development funding. AVEO is also eligible to receive approximately $1.3 billion in potential milestones comprised of $575 million in clinical and regulatory milestones, including $90 million in connection with the regulatory filings and market approval of tivozanib in RCC, as well as more than $780 million in commercial milestones. Subject to regulatory approval, AVEO will lead commercialization of tivozanib in North America and Astellas will lead commercialization of tivozanib in the European Union (EU). The companies will share equally all North American and EU development and commercialization costs and profits for tivozanib. Outside of North America and EU, Astellas will be responsible for the development and commercialization costs of tivozanib and will be obligated to pay AVEO a tiered, double-digit royalty on sales in those territories. Pursuant to the terms of a licensing agreement between Kyowa Hakko Kirin and AVEO, Kyowa Hakko Kirin retains the rights to develop and commercialize tivozanib in Asia. AVEO will be responsible for the manufacturing of tivozanib. The upfront cash payment of $125 million is not included in Astellas' current fiscal year (from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011) financial forecast.

"We are very pleased to initiate this collaboration to co-develop and commercialize tivozanib with AVEO as it further supports our stated growth strategy of becoming a Global Category Leader in Oncology," said Masafumi Nogimori, president and chief executive officer of Astellas. "Oncology is a high-priority therapeutic area for Astellas. We share AVEO's vision for oncology drug development and confidence that the TIVO-1 trial is positioned for success. We also strongly believe tivozanib has significant potential in multiple cancers beyond RCC and we look forward to working together to maximize the market opportunities for tivozanib and improving the treatment of cancer patients."

"This collaboration accomplishes the key strategic objectives we were seeking from a partnership for tivozanib which we believe positions us well to realize the full potential value of tivozanib in North America and Europe," stated Tuan Ha-Ngoc, president and chief executive officer of AVEO. "In particular, the agreement enables us to build out our North American commercial infrastructure to not only launch tivozanib, but also to support future products emerging from our growing oncology pipeline. We are excited to work with Astellas in our efforts to bring tivozanib to market and, based upon our mutual expectation of a favorable outcome in the TIVO-1 trial, we will be moving forward to accelerate and expand the clinical development of tivozanib beyond RCC prior to top-line TIVO-1 data."

In 2010, AVEO both initiated and completed patient enrollment in TIVO-1, a global, randomized Phase 3 superiority trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of tivozanib compared to sorafenib in patients with clear cell RCC who had a prior nephrectomy. The primary endpoint of the trial is to compare the PFS of patients treated with tivozanib vs. sorafenib. AVEO expects to announce top-line data from TIVO-1 in mid-2011. In addition, tivozanib has demonstrated the ability to be combined with targeted therapies and chemotherapies in multiple indications in Phase 1b clinical trials. In conjunction with the ongoing TIVO-1 trial and combination studies, AVEO and Astellas will jointly conduct and fund the expansion of tivozanib clinical development into additional solid tumor types.

RCC, or kidney cancer, is the eighth most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women in the U.S. Worldwide during 2010, it was estimated that more than 200,000 people would be diagnosed and more than 100,000 people would die from the disease. RCC, which accounts for 90 percent of all malignant kidney tumors, is highly resistant to chemotherapy. Despite advances in RCC therapies, significant unmet need persists. Currently available therapies provide patients less than one year of survival without disease progression and are associated with significant toxicities.


Astellas Pharma Inc., and AVEO Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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