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2022-12-21| LicensingPartnerships

Jazz Opts Into License Zymeworks’ Solid Tumor Med With $325 Million Payment

by Reed Slater
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After looking at some Phase 3 clinical trial data, Jazz Pharmaceuticals decided to fully buy into Zymeworks’ zanidatamab, a bispecific antibody designed to treat HER2-expressing biliary tract cancers (BTC) and gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma (GEA). With the recent $325 million payment, Jazz will have the rights to zanidatamab in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and other territories, excluding the Asia/Pacific region, which Zymeworks licensed to Beigene. 

Promising Clinical Data to Entice Jazz

Jazz previously paid Zymeworks $50 million in a licensing deal for zanidatamab that included the option to advance the partnership with the $325 million payment. Now, with some data from Zymeworks’ HERIZON-BTC-01 Phase 3 trials, Jazz is diving deeper into the partnership, exercising the partnership advancement for the rights to zanidatamab in key territories like the U.S., Europe, and Japan.

The HERIZON-BTC-01 Phase 3 clinical trial studied the safety and efficacy of zanidatamab in patients with previously treated HER2-amplified BTC. Throughout the trial, 41.3% of patients achieved an objective response, as assessed by an independent central review. The drug demonstrated a median duration of response of 12.9 months. Zymeworks said that zanidatamab as a monotherapy posed no new safety concerns in the Phase 3 trial. 

The clinical data convinced Jazz to jump on board with the program, prompting the additional payment with some potential milestone payments for Zymeworks in the future. The deal states that Zymeworks could make up to $525 million in certain regulatory milestones and up to $862.5 million in commercial milestones if zanidatamab gains approval. Altogether, Zymeworks could make up to $1.76 billion on the deal with Jazz. 

As the year is coming to a close, Jazz said it would distribute the $325 million to Zymeworks this quarter, marking a much-needed win for Zymeworks. 

Related Article: Summit Bets $5 Billion On Akeso’s Bispecific Antibody

A Nice End to a Rough Year for Zymeworks

Jazz’s decision to advance its partnership with Zymeworks is great news for the company, which has faced a lot of change in 2022, like a new CEO, a massive layoff, and a battle over Zymeworks’ future. 

The year started with a change in leadership when Kenneth Galbraith took the helm in January. Within weeks, the new CEO announced a shift in strategic priorities by cutting 50% of senior staff and a 25% staff reduction company-wide.

Then, All Blue Capital bid to buy out the company for $773 million in April. All Blue even recruited seasoned oncology veteran, Alan Barge, to sweeten the deal. After much consideration about the company’s future, Zymeworks declined the deal, which may prove to be a valuable decision based on the deal it struck with Jazz. 

With Jazz’s decision to advance the partnership, Zymeworks is $325 million richer and has a solid collaborator to progress zanidatamab’s development. Now, Jazz has the licensing rights to the solid tumor med in crucial territories, including the U.S., Europe, and Japan.

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