AbbVie buys ImmunoGen for $10.1 billion, expanding cancer drug portfolio

By Isabel Cameron

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags AbbVie ADC Antibody drug conjugates Pfizer Merck

AbbVie is acquiring rival biotech firm ImmunoGen for $10.1 billion, giving it access to ImmunoGen's flagship ovarian cancer treatment Elahere, which was granted accelerated approval from the FDA last year.

CEO Richard Gonzalez said the deal will advance AbbVie’s entry into the solid tumor market and bolster the company’s ​oncology pipeline.

On a call on Thursday, he said the merger has 'the potential to transform the standard of care for people living with cancer'.

Gonzalez also noted that establishing a solid presence in solid tumors has been a ‘strategic priority’ for AbbVie and ImmunoGen represents an ‘extremely compelling opportunity’.

AbbVie now has control of Elahere, an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) to treat platinum-resistant ovarian cancer (PROC).

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecological cancers in the U.S, and Elahere is the first targeted drug shown to boost survival rates for those with PROC.

The drug is forecast to generate around $500 million in sales in 2024. According to Barclays, Wall Street analysts have also projected approximately $2 billion in peak sales at the end of the decade. 

“AbbVie’s acquisition of ImmunoGen is strategically savvy as the deal bolsters AbbVie’s antibody drug conjugate (ADC) R&D capabilities, especially in the solid tumor space, while also delivering a differentiated ovarian cancer drug with blockbuster potential to support near-term growth,” said Emma Gutstein, healthcare sector analyst at Third Bridge.

“Our experts are excited about the potential of Elahere and believe it is well positioned to become the standard of care in this indication. The deal is a win-win as AbbVie’s significant global commercial platform and regulatory expertise should accelerate Elaher’s market uptake, while strengthening AbbVie’s ADC technology platform and pipeline.”

ADC programs have recently generated a great deal of interest​ in the pharma industry.

Back in March, Pfizer announced ​it was acquiring Seagen, considered an ADC pioneer, for $43 billion. In addition, Merck revealed it was paying $4 billion to develop and commercialize three Daiichi Sankyo​ ADC treatments back in October.

Other companies that have picked up ADC assets include AstraZeneca, BioNTech, GSK and Bristol Myers Squibb.

ADC’s have surged in popularity, as they have the potential to make cancer treatments more effective. These drugs deliver a targeted, precise dose of chemotherapy directly to cancer cells, while minimizing damage to healthy tissue.

AbbVie and ImmunoGen said that positive phase 3 results from the MIRASOL confirmatory trial will support two future regulatory submissions, a marketing authorization Application (MAA) to the European Union and a supplemental biologic license application (sBLA) submission to the FDA for full approval.

Ongoing clinical development programs are also underway, designed to expand Elahere into earlier lines of therapy and enter other large patient segments of the ovarian market over the next 5–10 years.

Mark Enyedy, CEO and president of ImmunoGen, added: “With global commercial infrastructure and deep clinical and regulatory expertise, AbbVie is the right company to accelerate geographic and label expansion, and realize the full potential of ELAHERE as the first and only ADC approved in ovarian cancer.

“The addition of ImmunoGen’s pipeline, platform, and expertise to AbbVie’s oncology portfolio is an exciting opportunity for the combined companies to advance innovation in ADCs. This transaction is the culmination of our 40-year commitment to develop and deliver the next-generation of ADCs and more good days for people living with cancer.”

AbbVie expects the ImmunoGen deal to close in the middle of 2024, subject to shareholder approval, regulatory approvals, and other customary closing conditions.  

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