Merck snags ADC candidates from Daiichi Sankyo in $22B deal

Oct. 20, 2023

Merck announced this week that it would be purchasing the rights to ADC drug candidates from Daiichi Sankyo, in a deal worth up to $22 billion. 

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will pay Daiichi Sankyo $4 billion upfront in addition to $1.5 billion in continuation payments and potential additional payments of up to $16.5 billion. The parnters will jointly develop and potentially commercialize three ADC candidates worldwide (ex-Japan), with Daiichi Sankyo solely responsible for manufacturing and supply.

The partnership involves three Daiichi Sankyo oncology antibody-drug conjugates: patritumab deruxtecan (HER3-DXd), ifinatamab deruxtecan (I-DXd), and raludotatug deruxtecan (R-DXd). The ADCs leverage Daiichi Sankyo's DXd technology, enabling the targeted delivery of cytotoxic payloads to cancer cells expressing specific surface antigens through monoclonal antibody conjugates.

Patritumab deruxtecan has already received Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the U.S. FDA for EGFR-mutated non-small cell lung cancer and is scheduled for a BLA submission by March 2024. Ifinatamab deruxtecan is being evaluated as a monotherapy for small cell lung cancer, and raludotatug deruxtecan is in a phase 1 clinical trial for advanced ovarian cancer.

The ADC deal-making space has stayed hot. Earlier this week, Eli Lilly announced it would acquire France-based Mablink Bioscience, a pre-clinical biotech with a focus on next-gen ADCs. BioNTech also announced a potential $1 billion collaboration with China-based MediLink Therapeutics that will center on the development of an ADC targeting the HER3.