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What: Shares of Infinity Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INFI), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing therapies that tackle difficult-to-treat diseases like cancer, skyrocketed as much as 55% after announcing a collaborative licensing agreement for its lead compound, IPI-145, with AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV).
So what: Under the terms of the agreement for IPI-145, an oral inhibitor of phosphoinositide-3-kinase that's being tested as a treatment for a number of blood cancers, as well as rheumatoid arthritis and select cases of asthma, AbbVie will pay Infinity Pharmaceuticals $275 million upfront and will be eligible to receive an additional $530 million in development, regulatory, and commercialization milestones. Specifically, $405 million of this $530 can be earned leading up to and including the first commercial sale of the drug.
Within the United States Infinity and AbbVie will split profits right down the middle, while in ex. U.S. countries Infinity will be eligible to receive double-digit royalties (23.5% to 30.5%) on net product sales. The collaboration will also see the two companies essentially splitting development, marketing, and commercialization duties.
Now what: On paper this looks like the perfect symbiotic partnership. Infinity, being wholly clinical-stage, is burning through what cash it currently has on its books. An immediate $275 million infusion is going to sustain Infinity's research and development program for a long time, and it removes the burden of any impending cash crunches. For AbbVie, the deal gives the company another way to broaden its oncology portfolio and provides another stepping stone for the eventual transition in a few years when the world's current best-selling drug, Humira, loses patent exclusivity.
Perhaps my only concern here is that AbbVie is giving Infinity an awful lot of front-end incentives, including a whopping $275 million upfront payment. Although most of the clinical-stage data surrounding IPI-145 to date has been positive, it's also been early stage in nature (i.e., phase 1 studies). Though jumping in early before much of IPI-145's late-stage data is out could net AbbVie a bigger chunk of overseas revenue than if it waited, it's also a much riskier proposition for the company.
IPI-145 may hold plenty of potential for Infinity, but relative to this revolutionary new technology it could wind up being left in the dust!
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Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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