The latest move in the antibody drug conjugate (ADC) space will see AbbVie add ovarian cancer drug Elahere through the purchase of ImmunoGen.

Dan Stanton, Managing editor

December 1, 2023

2 Min Read
AbbVie going big on ADCs through $10bn ImmunoGen buy
DepositPhotos/Skorzewiak

The latest Big Pharma move in the antibody drug conjugate (ADC) space will see AbbVie add commercial ovarian cancer drug Elahere through the acquisition of ImmunoGen.

The deal – expected to close mid 2024 – sees AbbVie paying $10.1 billion for Waltham, Massachusetts-based ImmunoGen and propels the Big Biopharma into the world of commercialized ADCs.

ImmunoGen’s Elahere (mirvetuximab soravtansine) won US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accelerated approval for ovarian cancer in November 2022. Since launch, the therapy has brought in exponential revenues, with Q3 net sales of $105 million bringing ImmunoGen over $210 million in product revenue through the first nine months of 2023.

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DepositPhotos/Skorzewiak

“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,” said Mark Enyedy, CEO of ImmunoGen.

“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.”

AbbVie’s presence in the ADC space has been turbulent. In 2016, AbbVie spent $5.8 billion to acquire Stemcentrx, citing its lung cancer ADC candidate Rova-T as a major driver. However, in August 2019 Abbvie halted development after the drug demonstrated no survival benefit.

And in August this year, AbbVie ended development of two early-stage oncology candidates: ABBV-011, an anti-SEZ6 ADC in clinical trials for relapsed or refractory lung cancer, and ABBV-647, a Pfizer-partnered ADC targeting the PTK7 protein to treat solid tumors.

But AbbVie still has several other ADCs in its pipeline, including lead candidate telisotuzumab-vedotin (Teliso-V), which the firm announced this week demonstrated compelling clinical benefits in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in a Phase II trial this week. Elahere and two ADCs in development will bolster AbbVie’s ADC portfolio.

“The acquisition of ImmunoGen demonstrates our commitment to deliver on our long-term growth strategy and enables AbbVie to further diversify our oncology pipeline across solid tumors and hematologic malignancies,” said Richard Gonzalez, CEO of AbbVie.

The news is the latest major deal to be focused on ADCs. The past 12 months has seen a string of licensing deals by AbbVie’s big biopharma peers, along with significant acquisitions in the sector, including Eli Lilly’s agreement to buy preclinical ADC firm Mablink Bioscience, and what could become the largest pharma merger since 2019’s BMS-Celgene deal: A proposed $43 billion bid from Pfizer to acquire Seagen (previously Seattle Genetics), the doyenne of ADCs, made back in February.

About the Author(s)

Dan Stanton

Managing editor

Journalist covering the international biopharmaceutical manufacturing and processing industries.


Founder and editor of Bioprocess Insider, a daily news offshoot of publication Bioprocess International, with expertise in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, in particular, the following niches: CROs, CDMOs, M&A, IPOs, biotech, bioprocessing methods and equipment, drug delivery, regulatory affairs and business development.


From London, UK originally but currently based in Montpellier, France through a round-a-bout adventure that has seen me live and work in Leeds (UK), London, New Zealand, and China.

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