Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (BMY) and Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd announced on Wednesday, that the two companies will jointly develop and commercialize selected compounds of monotherapy and combination regimens. This collaboration will benefit cancer patients in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. The immunotherapies to be jointly developed include Opdivo and Yervoy across a broad range of tumor types. Other immune-oncology assets included in the agreement are urelumab, lirilumab and BMS-986016.
Opdivo (nivolumab) was granted breakthrough therapy status in the US this May, and is an approved treatment for unresectable melanoma in Japan. Opdivo is the first PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor to be approved by any regulatory body in the world.
Yervoy (ipilimumab) is a CTLA-4 immune checkpoint inhibitor approved in Taiwan for patients having advanced melanoma. The therapy is also being tested in Japan for treatment of small cell lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, and melanoma in Japan.
According to the agreement, if a Bristol-Myers Squibb compound (Yervoy, urelumab, lirilumab or BMS-986016) is used as a single agent, or a combination of two Bristol-Myers compounds is used, Bristol-Myers will fund the majority of the development expenditures and will also keep majority of the profits. Similarly, when Opdivo is used as a monotherapy, Ono will bear the majority of the expenses and enjoy the bulk of the profits. If Opdivo is used in a combination regimen with any of Bristol-Myers’ compounds, costs and profits will be shared equally.
Before the agreement, Ono Pharmaceutical had exclusive development and commercialization rights for Opdivo in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. Bristol-Myers Squibb had similar rights for the rest of the world, plus exclusive rights to Yervoy, urelumab, lirilumab, and BMS-986016 worldwide.