Merck has signed an agreement in Germany for the commercialisation of products that include or contain Abbisko Therapeutics’ pimicotinib (ABSK021) for all indications.

Merck will receive an exclusive licence to market the products in licensed territories comprising the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

The exclusive rights for the development of pimicotinib in the licensed territories will be retained by Abbisko.

Merck also holds an exclusive option for international commercial rights based on the agreed terms and conditions.

The company has an option to jointly develop the product for other indications under specific conditions.

Abbisko is eligible to receive a down payment of $70m from Merck. 

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On Merck’s exercising the option to commercialise pimicotinib across the world, Abbisko will receive a further option exercise payment. 

The aggregate upfront payment, exercising payment and development and commercialisation milestones total $605.5m, plus a royalty on annual net sales.

Merck Healthcare business sector chief marketing officer Andrew Paterson stated: “We have the opportunity through our partnership with Abbisko to deliver a first-in-class treatment for a critically underserved patient population in China and potentially beyond. 

“Pimicotinib provides an opportunity to address a significant unmet medical need and for us to expand our commercial footprint in oncology in China, the second largest pharmaceutical market in the world.”

An orally available small molecule inhibitor of CSF-1R, pimicotinib received breakthrough therapy designation and priority medicine status in China, the US and the European Union to treat Tenosynovial giant cell tumour patients not amenable to surgery.

The product is being analysed in an international Phase III clinical trial in TGCT patients.

Abbisko is also progressing with the development of pimicotinib for other indications. Two Phase II trials in chronic graft-versus-host disease and advanced pancreatic cancer have received regulatory approval in China.

In January 2022, Abbisko signed a licensing deal with Eli Lilly and Company to develop new molecules against an undisclosed target for cardiometabolic diseases.