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Biogen (BIIB) In-Licenses Rights to Multiple Sclerosis Drug

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Biogen (BIIB - Free Report) announced that it has entered into a license and collaboration agreement with China-based biopharmaceutical company InnoCare for orelabrutinib, an oral small molecule Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (“BTK”) inhibitor, for the potential treatment of multiple sclerosis (“MS”).

BTK is a key enzyme that is part of the signaling cascade of immune cells that also include B cells and myeloid cells. Orelabrutinib is a covalent BTK inhibitor with high selectivity, ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, and the potential to inhibit B cell and myeloid cell effector functions in the central nervous system, which may provide a clinically meaningful benefit for treating all forms of MS.

Per the press release, the drug will be available as a potential additional treatment for all forms of MS and slow the MS progression. Orelabrutinib is currently being evaluated in a phase II study in relapsing-remitting MS patients.

Shares of Biogen have rallied 42.6% so far this year against the industry’s 1.6% decrease.

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Orelabrutinib has already received approval from the Chinese health authorities for two cancer indications –relapsed/refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (R/R CLL)/small lymphocytic lymphoma (R/R SLL) and relapsed/refractory mantle cell lymphoma (R/R MCL). The drug is also being developed for the potential treatment of autoimmune diseases.

Per the agreement terms, Biogen will earn exclusive rights to orelabrutinib for MS indications and certain autoimmune diseases outside of China (including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan). InnoCare will retain exclusive worldwide rights to the drug for cancer indications and certain autoimmune diseases in China.

InnoCare is eligible to receive an upfront payment of $125 million for the deal. It will also be eligible to receive milestone and other payments up to $812.5 million. InnoCare will also be eligible to receive royalty payments in low to high teens on potential future net sales of any product resulting from the collaboration.

Biogen has multiple other treatments for MS in its product portfolio that include Tecfidera and Tysabri, which drive sales for the company. In first-quarter 2021, the company earned revenues of $2.69 billion, out of which $1.69 billion was from the MS drug portfolio.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Biogen currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked stocks in the drug/biotech sector include Alexion , Bayer (BAYRY - Free Report) and Repligen (RGEN - Free Report) , each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Alexion’s earnings estimates for 2022 have increased from $14.69 to $14.70 per share in the past 60 days. The stock has surged 19% this year so far.

Bayer’s earnings estimates for 2021 have increased from $1.73 to $1.81 per share in the past 60 days while that of 2022 has risen from $1.89 to $2.00 over the same period. The stock has risen 1.6% in the year so far.

Repligen’s earnings estimates for 2021 have increased from $2.21 to $2.26 per share in the past 60 days while that of 2022 has risen from $2.53 to $2.56 over the same period. The stock has surged 6.7% this year so far.


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