The drug, INCB18424, is an inhibitor of JAK1 and JAK2, two proteins involved in signaling in the cell with inflammatory diseases and cancer. The drug is already in phase 3 trials for patients with myelofibrosis, a bone marrow disease. For $210 million now and up to $1.1 billion in future milestone payments, Incyte only had to give up the rights to the drug outside the U.S. Plus, it'll get double-digit royalties on those sales.
Myelofibrosis isn't that common of a disease, so retaining the U.S. rights and fielding its own sales force in the States seems like a good move by Incyte. Novartis has plenty of experience launching oncology drugs, so it makes for a good excluding-the-U.S. partner.
Incyte did have to throw in a preclinical cancer drug, INCB28060, to sweeten the deal. Novartis gets worldwide rights to the potential cancer drug, although Incyte retained an option to co-promote the drug if it makes it onto the market.
Incyte is also developing a topical version of INCB18424 for treatment of psoriasis, which wasn't included as part of this deal. The phase 2 data looked good, and if the drug can get through phase 3 development, it should have a good chance at competing with Abbott Labs'
While the partnership looks like a good deal for Incyte, the company doesn't look like much of a Black Friday bargain, with a market cap of $1 billion and no drugs on the market. With the money from Novartis, Incyte shouldn't have much problem getting through phase 3 trials for INCB18424 and the company certainly will be worth more if it can get a drug on the market. I'm just not convinced the reward right now is worth any risk of failure for INCB18424.
Then again, maybe it's just me who doesn't know Jack.