Medimmune: Joining forces with Amgen to develop and commercialise clinical-stage inflammation portfolio.




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Video title: Medimmune: Joining forces with Amgen to develop and commercialise clinical-stage inflammation portfolio.
Released on: July 11, 2012. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, filmed at #BIO2012 Convention in Boston, Fintan Walton talks to Atul Saran, SVP Corporate Development and Ventures at Medimmune.
Colloboration with Amgen around commercialization of an inflammation program
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at BIO in Boston, 2012. On this show I have Atul Saran, who is Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Ventures at MedImmune which of course is the biologics arm of AstraZeneca, welcome.
Atul Saran:
Thank you very much.
Fintan Walton:
Atul, we are here to talk about quite a unique collaboration that you've entered into or this MedImmune's entered into with Amgen [PharmaDeals ID = 38748] and what we are going to talk about is that collaboration, but of course first of all that collaboration is around the commercialization of an inflammation program that originated within Amgen and obviously you guys won that opportunity to do that, what made you the winner in that particular case?
Atul Saran:
Well you always have to ask Amgen's, I am not sure if I can speak for them but we had a very good collaborative relationship with them from the start there is a lot of like minded thinking in terms of how we were gonna develop other programs and focus on the best science and bring those forward for the indications in which there are scientific merit and then there is a lot of discussion around eventually on these kind of markets how we gonna commercialize them and there is a great deal of agreement on both sides of the table that we would continue to do so in a way that drove value, leveraging the resources of both companies in a way that was somewhat neutral to the incentives on either side, we wanted to really make sure that every incentive we created was to maximize the ability of patients to get these drugs and the value of the overall products to the market and that so much become a one party, one sided party benefit.
Fintan Walton:
Okay, so let's just look at the program because it's an antibody based program?
Atul Saran:
That's correct.
Fintan Walton:
That originated within Amgen?
Atul Saran:
That's right.
Fintan Walton:
And could you just describe what that portfolio is and because obviously part of this is really trying to make some very critical decisions about selecting certain antibodies going forward into a clinical program challenging, so tell us a little bit about the antibodies first of all?
Atul Saran:
Right, so Amgen has been as you know has quite a substantial pipeline of programs and they had their entire inflammation portfolio, they were seeking a development partner and a commercialization partner for their inflammation portfolio and they were running a competitive process in that process we took a look at them and the five assets are all antibodies directed at various stages of inflammation, the lead program is an anti-IL-17 monoclonal antibody that is focusing first on psoriasis and asthma with potential other indications that it could go into if it's successful on those. And then there are four other assets that are somewhat earlier in clinical development they are already in humans, but it is they are earlier in development and they are looking at things like lupus , ulcerative colitis , Crohn's disease , serious asthmathe different types of indications that we are looking at with various biological mechanisms.
Alliance management relationship between Amgen and MedImmune
Fintan Walton:
Right, so when you entered into such a collaboration obviously it's critically important that you work together in a co-operative way, so how do that I mean obviously this has only happened recently you are still in the earlier stages of this deal, so how do that work, I mean how did you set up the particularly the alliance management relationship between the two parties?
Atul Saran:
Right, so I think the alliance management actually starts before you consummate the deal, right and a lot of how you actually do the deal says a lot about how the relationship is likely to go forward. We've spent a lot of time in the deal process trying to make sure that we had good alignment around the philosophy by which we are approaching each of these programs and those are really critical, right because this is intended to be a long term, long scale partnership and there is a high likelihood that we will have a difference in the opinion going forward, you are gonna have scientific data that you weren't excepting and you got to figure out how you are gonna resolve all of these things and so we had a very constructive dialog around what is the initial development plan, when there are changes how do we deal with that, how do we make decisions and in fact a large part of our discussion and negotiations around the contracting where to reach that, interestingly just a couple of weeks before we closed on the deal we had an issue arise that was a real-life test case, it was some data that was someone unexpected in one of the programs and we had to figure out how do this shift our thinking around the development plans and we had a very constructive dialog as to how to we approach this and included you know the scientists and so I feel like alliance management for something like this really starts in how you do the deal and carrying that through to the entire program.
Fintan Walton:
Now obviously we all know that when you take products through a clinical pipeline, through the process there are you know obstacles that are come across, competitors do things and so forth which change the potential program how that can go forward obviously then we go back to this decision making process, In the end is there a dominant player in this relationship? In the end if you are going to have a really difficult time trying to decide what to do how is that resolved, is it through an escalation mechanism?
Atul Saran:
So it's interesting in a lot of collaboration agreements you will see that there is an escalation and there is a tie break and may be there is a Dutch auction and there is there are so many different ways you can handle this, right. In our particular case what we decided was and we both Amgen and MedImmune/AstraZeneca have very extensive relationships with other parties and we've tried a lot of different types of collaborations styles and so what was really important we said look for most of the day-to-day decision making it has to be clear that one party has the decision making authority and that varies on a product by product basis and what we use is the decision making criteria is to who would have that tiebreaking vote, not even a tiebreaking vote who has the decision authority it was really based on where the expertise lies, right. So they have much greater depth in the dermatology space, right and we've got more depth on the asthma space. So for example those are the respective ways of the decision making that stood up at least from the development phase and then we decided for development, manufacturing and commercialization there will be three different sets of who decided those particular pieces. There is an escalation mechanism but it's actually for very big items and there is no tiebreak vote at that point, it's basically incumbent upon the senior most leaders at Amgen and then at MedImmune/AstraZeneca to actually come together and say what is in the best interest of our company, what is in the best interest of the brands and how do we make a decision going forward.
Fintan Walton:
And you've already decided you know who is likely to enter market needs for the different products, for the different indications as you've said there is asthma and this dermatology applications for this particular antibodies, have you decided yet who is gonna, who is gonna be responsible for those?
Atul Saran:
No, not exactly. What we have is an initial framework for figuring out how we're going to decide, right. So the most advance program is the IL-17 program and for that one the lead indication because it is in psoriasis it's pretty clear that Amgen has you know great presence in the US and some extent in Europe and so they'll probably take more the lead in that, AstraZeneca has a global footprint in a lot of places that Amgen doesn't and so we will probably take a lead on that side of it and then, and then we'll have to see when it comes to asthma , I mean we've got a number of things in the pipeline that are likely to hit in the asthma space that will make sense for us if we commercialize it, but the overall the overarching principle in the agreement is that we are going to figure out what makes the most sense between the two of us based on the capabilities that we each have and can bring to the table at the time that we actually launch these products, because you know that's where our commercialize capabilities are now, who knows what the world would like five-years from now, seven-years from now at which point we will have to make different decisions and we don't want to lock ourselves into decisions now that might not make sense for us as companies later.
Atul Saran's perspective: Future developments in deal area
Fintan Walton:
And then the other element of this is you know how typical do you think these sort of deals are gonna become, I mean in the end pharma companies are trying to build the pipeline. AstraZeneca is trying to build it's pipeline, risk sharing between pharmaceutical companies is occurring a lot more then they did in the past it's always been there at some level, but is this what we gonna see, is this the future?
Atul Saran:
I think you're gonna see more of this kind of thing, but I have to tell you, I have to give a lot of credit to Amgen in this process one of the things that made this such a robust process on their part and very attractive from our standpoint was that they came to us with their entire inflammation portfolio and historically you've seen companies cherry pick their assets and say well I am gonna keep the best ones for myself and I will try to partner my two or three assets, right and that's why I said I have to credit Amgen with being very forward looking on this and saying you know what, here is the entire portfolio and so even internally when we had a discussion on this we say how do we know we are seeing their best assets, but we are seeing all of their assets, right they haven't said anything is off the table, they said take a look at the whole thing and lets figure what we can get.
Fintan Walton:
So that's important trust element that comes in immediately you are not as you said cherry picking and so forth?
Atul Saran:
Absolutely, it's critical, right and so when you ask me whether we will see more of these kind of things happening there has to be a willingness on the party that actually has the assets to start with to engage in that kind of dialogue and I think some companies will get there and some companies won't, right. I mean some people are unwilling to give up that kind of control that's necessary for that kind of decision they are unwilling to say you know these are my great assets and you know I think that will be hard for some companies to do, but I do think it's going to be critical as you look at where the pharmaceutical industry is going over all that companies that are successful are able to do this, because I think the type of risk sharing that you can get out of this, the type of expertise that you can leverage, right. Amgen has fantastic scientists, we've got fantastic scientists, right but they don't necessarily overlap in exactly the same therapeutic areas or disease states and so the extent which you can bring that information and knowledge to bare at the same time is fantastic, right you've got commercialize expertise that's different on both sides, there is regulatory expertise that's different on both sides how do you actually leverage that in a way that doesn't have a huge premium associated with it, right acquisitions have a premium associated with them and in larger scale collaborations often times have that built in as well this is very straight forward how do we develop these programs going in forward in a way that drives value for both Amgen as well as MedImmune/AstraZeneca.
Fintan Walton:
Well Atul, we look forward to seeing how this program develops over the next few years, sure it's gonna be exciting one. Thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Atul Saran:
Thank you Fintan, I appreciate the time.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Atul Saran
Senior Vice President
At the time of recording this PTV interview Atul Saran serves as SVP Corporate Development and Ventures at MedImmune. Atul Saran assumed the role of Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Ventures at MedImmune in 2011. He has responsibility for MedImmune's corporate development activities, primarily including worldwide biologics and vaccines strategic business development transactions for the AstraZeneca Group, as well as responsibility for new MedImmune corporate ventures and oversight of MedImmune Ventures. Mr. Saran joined MedImmune in 2003 as the company's first in-house corporate and securities lawyer and worked with the general counsel to develop a strategically focused legal department, in which he held positions of increasing seniority, most recently as vice president and deputy general counsel, with responsibility for managing the legal department (other than the intellectual property team). During his tenure in the legal department, Mr. Saran helped structure and complete critical initiatives and transactions for the organization including the production of H1N1 vaccine for the U.S. government in 2009, the acquisition of MedImmune by AstraZeneca in 2007, the acquisition and divestiture of key pipeline technologies and various structured finance transactions. Mr. Saran also worked with the management team to establish the governance and operational framework for MedImmune Ventures and execution of its subsequent investment strategy. Mr. Saran came to MedImmune from Hogan & Hartson, where he was an associate attorney in the Private Equity/Emerging Business Practice Group. Mr. Saran graduated summa cum laude from the University of Illinois College of Law, and received his bachelor's degree in biological sciences from Stanford University. He also successfully completed two years of medical school at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination.
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
MedImmune
MedImmune LLC, a biotechnology company, engages in the research, development, and commercialization of biological products, and therapeutic and preventive medicines for use in the areas of infectious diseases, oncology, respiratory diseases, inflammation, cardiovascular/gastrointestinal diseases, and neuroscience. Its products include Synagis, a monoclonal antibody that is used for the prevention of serious lower respiratory tract disease caused by RSV in children; FluMist, a nasal spray flu vaccine that is used for the active immunization of eligible individuals between 2 to 49 years of age against influenza disease caused by influenza virus subtypes A and B contained in the vaccine; and Ethyol, a cytoprotective agent that is used to reduce certain toxicities associated with cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The company markets its products through a network of wholesalers and distributors in the United States and internationally. MedImmune, LLC was formerly known as Molecular Vaccines, Inc and changed its name to MedImmune, LLC in 1990. The company was founded in 1988 and is based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It has locations in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. As of June 5, 2007, MedImmune, LLC operates as a subsidiary of AstraZeneca plc.