Array Biopharma Regains Rights to Cancer Drug From Novartis

Array Biopharma (ARRY) is regaining full development and marketing rights to its experimental cancer drug binimetinib from Novartis (NVS) , according to an agreement between the two companies announced Wednesday.

The re-acquisition of binimetinib by Array was expected after Novartis announced in April a business swap with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) which included the acquisition of Glaxo's cancer drug business. Once that deal closes early next year, Novartis will own Glaxo's recently approved MEK inhibitor Mekinist. Binimetinib is also a MEK inhibitor, which necessitated Novartis returning the drug to Array.

Array will receive $85 million from Novartis to go along with worldwide development and marketing rights to binimetinib, according to term of the new agreement, which will close when the Novartis-Glaxo deal is fully consumated. Novartis will also continue to provide some financial and logistical support to three ongoing, phase III studies of binimetinib. These studies are enrolling patients with NRAS-mutant melanoma, BRAF-mutant melanoma and low-grade serous ovarian cancer.

Of the three phase III studies, results from the NRAS-mutant melanoma study are expected first, likely in early 2016.

With binimetinib back in house, Array will turn to starting a phase III study its wholly owned asset filanesib in relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma, which could start in the first half of 2015, pending the close of the Novartis agreement. This study will compare filanesib plus Amgen's (AMGN) Kyprolis against Kyprolis and a placebo.

Array finished the third quarter with $111 million in cash. 

Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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