In a bid to expand its oncology pipeline AbbVie has announced it will acquire ImmunoGen under a definitive agreement. The proposed $10.1bn acquisition will see AbbVie purchase ImmunoGen’s outstanding shares at $31.26 per share. The acquisition is expected to be completed in mid-2024.

On an investor call following the announcement this morning (30 November), AbbVie’s executive vice president and chief financial officer Scott Reents, said the funding of the transaction will be driven by a combination of cash and debt. The exact split of cash and debt has not been indicated, but Reents anticipates that AbbVie will spend at least $2bn in cash in the acquisition.

Through the transaction, AbbVie will gain an asset in Elahere (mirvetuximab soravtansine-gynx), ImmunoGen’s lead antibody-drug candidate (ADC), which received an accelerated approval to treat folate receptor alpha (FRα)-positive, platinum resistant ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer, in November 2022.

As per AbbVie’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer, Jeffrey Stewart, AbbVie plans to take advantage of ImmunoGen’s “triple play” of studies expanding Elahere’s scope to treat sensitive populations. The potential for combinations makes Elahere unique, Stewart added.

Elahere is being trialled in three studies for platinum sensitive ovarian cancer; in combination with Roche’s Avastin (bevacizumab) in the Phase III GLORIOSA study (NCT05445778), as a monotherapy in the Phase II PICCOLO trial (NCT05041257), and with carboplatin in another Phase II study (NCT05456685).

“The first [platinum resistant] population is very significant, annualizing at over $400m. But it’s really the expansion opportunities into sensitive, medium expressors, and ultimately frontline that would balance out the multibillion-dollar opportunity,” said Stewart on the call.

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Elahere generated net sales of $105.2m in Q3 2023. As per a GlobalData consensus forecast, the ADC is estimated to earn peak sales of $1.43bn in 2029.

GlobalData is the parent company of Pharmaceutical Technology.

Elahere’s accelerated approval was based on key objective response rate (ORR) and duration of response (DOR) data recorded in the Phase III SORAYA study (NCT04296890) which studied the drug in folate receptor alpha (FRα)-positive platinum resistant ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer. The ADC is designed to eliminate targeted cancer cells by binding to FRα, resulting in the intracellular release of potent cytotoxic tubulin inhibitor DM4 which arrests the cell cycle and subsequently causes cancer cell death.

More recently in October, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) accepted ImmunoGen’s marketing authorization application (MAA) for Elahere in the same indication. The EMA’s decision was based on data from the Phase III MIRASOL study (NCT04209855), which did a head-to-head comparison of Elahere versus a chemotherapy of the investigator’s choice.