Rights to GSK’s Multiple Sclerosis Drug to Be Sold to Novartis for $1 Billion

Rights to GSK’s Multiple Sclerosis Drug to Be Sold to Novartis for $1 Billion

Over $1 billion will be spent by Novartis to acquire the rights to GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) multiple sclerosis (MS) drug, Ofatumumab. The company announced its plans to purchase the drug on Friday.

The rights to Ofatumumab were transferred to Novartis earlier this year as a cancer treatment, sold under the name Arzerra. The company plans to continue its development of Ofatumumab as a treatment for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), along with other autoimmune disorders.

According to a statement made by Novartis, the drug is “a fully human monoclonal antibody which targets CD20.” CD20 represents a specific type of B cell that can be an indicator of cancer, and can also play a role in the effects of chronic inflammation associated with MS, such as spinal cord damage.

Ofatumumab targets the CD20 cells which can accumulate in the lymphatic tissue, and depletes them. The drug is administered via a subcutaneous injection.

A Phase 2a dose finding trial of Ofatumumab showed positive results; the drug led to “significant reduction of up to 90 percent in the cumulative number of new brain lesions, in patients with MS between weeks 4-12 in the study,” according to the press release.

Ofatumumab joins other members of Novartis’ MS portfolio, including Gilenya and two investigational treatments, BAF312 and CJM112. “Novartis is pleased to further reinforce our commitment to neuroscience, and to add an exciting new treatment to our strong MS portfolio,” said David Epstein, Head of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, in a press release on the acquisition. “Our vision for patients with MS is to develop treatments that improve on current standards of care, meeting patients’ needs at every stage of their disease with innovative and targeted drugs.”

Novartis is expected to pay GSK $300 million up front for the rights to the drug. After the start of late-stage clinical trials for Ofatumumab, Novartis will make another payment of $200 million. Along with the $1 billion GSK will receive for Ofatumumab, the company will retain royalties of 12 percent for the future sales of the drug. The deal between GSK and Novartis is predicted to be finalized by the end of this year.