Amgen and China’s BeiGene in Oncology Partnership

04.11.2019 -

US biotech Amgen has agreed to take a 20.5% stake in China’s BeiGene as the two companies enter into a strategic collaboration to develop cancer drugs. The move significantly accelerates Amgen’s plans to expand its oncology presence in China, the world’s second-largest pharma market.

Amgen will pay around $2.7 billion in cash for the stake and will also nominate one person to serve on BeiGene’s board of directors. The deal is expected to close in early 2020 subject to the Chinese biotech gaining shareholder approval along with other customary conditions, including antitrust clearance.

“Cancer is a leading cause of death in China and will only become a more pressing public health issue as the Chinese population ages,” said Amgen chairman and CEO Robert Bradway. “With its extensive commercial and clinical capabilities within China and a commitment to global quality standards, BeiGene is the ideal strategic collaborator as we seek to make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of cancer patients in China and around the world.”

According to Amgen, China’s oncology market is one of the fastest-growing pharma segments as, every year, around four million people are diagnosed with cancer and 2.3 million die from the disease.

Under the terms of the agreement, BeiGene will commercialize three cancer drugs in China: Xgeva, Kyprolis and Blincyto. Xgeva was launched in China in September while the other two are undergoing Phase 3 trials.

In addition, BeiGene will pay up to $1.25 billion to help advance 20 of Amgen’s investigational cancer drugs, while also sharing global R&D costs.

Amgen said it anticipates using data from clinical trials conducted in China to advance the development of its oncology portfolio globally.

The California-based biotech will also continue to commercialize its non-oncology portfolio in China and anticipates launching a number of other medicines in the country over the next several years, including Prolia, which reduces the risk of fracture in post-menopausal women with osteoporosis.

Earlier this year, Amgen launched its first-ever product in China, namely Repatha, an LDL cholesterol-lowering treatment that is proven to reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

In 2017, another US biotech, Celgene, announced plans to acquire a 5.8% stake in BeiGene.