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Turning Point Therapeutics Licenses Its Lung Cancer Drug in China

By Todd Campbell – Jul 7, 2020 at 2:50PM

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Zai Labs will pay up to $176 million for the rights to sell repotrectinib in the Greater China market.

Turning Point Therapeutics (TPTX) on Tuesday licensed Greater China rights to its tyrosine kinase inhibitor, repotrectinib, to Zai Lab (ZLAB 7.00%) for $25 million in cash up front, plus up to  $151 million in development, regulatory and sales milestones, and tiered mid-to-high-teen percentage royalties on future sales. 

Currently, Turning Point is conducting phase 2 studies of repotrectinib as a potential treatment for patients with ROS1-positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer and NTRK-positive solid tumors. If the drug proves effective in those trials, then repotrectinib could compete against Pfizer's (PFE -1.02%) Xalkori, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that had global sales of $149 million in the first quarter.

A doctor speaking into a megaphone.


Interim results from repotrectinib's mid-stage trials won't be available until later this year, but Turning Point previously reported encouraging phase 1 results. Specifically, 91% of patients responded to repotrectinib, and the median duration of response was 23.1 months. 

Eventually, the biotech companies hope to win approval for repotrectinib's use in China as both a front-line treatment and as a second-line treatment for patients who have previously been treated with another tyrosine kinase inhibitor such as Xalkori. Currently, there are no targeted therapies like repotrectinib approved for second-line use in China, and Xalkori is the only ROS-1 positive treatment currently approved for use there.

More than 700,000 patients are diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in China every year, and roughly 2% to 3% of them are ROS-1 positive. Because most patients develop resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors, there's a need for new treatment options such as repotrectinib.

Todd Campbell owns shares of Pfizer. His clients may have positions in the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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