MorphoSys has offloaded cancer monoclonal antibody (mAb) monjuvi (tafasitamab) to Incyte Corporation ahead of its $2.9 billion acquisition by Novartis.

Shreeyashi Ojha, Reporter

February 12, 2024

2 Min Read
DepositPhotos/ArturVerkhovetskiy

Under the terms of the agreement, Incyte has gained exclusive commercialization rights outside of the US. Planegg, Germany-headquartered MorphoSys will receive an upfront payment of $750 million and an equity investment of $150 million. Additionally, it is eligible to receive milestone payments amounting to up to $1.1 billion.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved monjuvi, an antibody against CD19 for the treatment of B cell malignancies in 2020.

According to the firm, monjuvi includes an XmAb(R)-engineered Fc domain with the goal of enhancing antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis (ADCP) and antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). MorphoSys has been clinically investigating tafasitamab as a therapeutic option in B cell malignancies in a number of ongoing combination trials. 

“The global partnership with Incyte is an important step towards unlocking the full potential of tafasitamab and achieving our goal of rapidly bringing tafasitamab to patients inside and outside of the US,” said Jean-Paul Kress, CEO of MorphoSys.

“The combination of our strong antibody and drug development expertise partnered with Incyte’s well-established hematology-oncology experience and their commercial operations in key territories has the potential to significantly broaden the tafasitamab opportunity.” 

Additionally, Morphosys will lead commercialization in the US, booking all revenues from sales of tafasitamab, while both the firms share joint responsibility for commercialization and share profits equally. The agreement also states that the companies will share costs of development at 55% (Incyte) to 45% (MorphoSys), while Incyte is responsible for future development costs in countries outside the US. 

Novartis acquires MorphoSys for $2.9bn 

With Incyte buying monjuvi, Novartis will not be adding the mAb to its portfolio as it acquires MorphoSys in an all-cash transaction of EUR 2.7 billion ($2.9 billion). 

According to the firm, this transaction is consistent with its long-term growth strategy. It aligns with Novartis’ strategic focus on oncology and strengthens the company’s efforts in developing next-generation treatment options for cancer. 

“The acquisition further expands and complements Novartis pipeline in oncology, one of its priority therapeutic areas, while also enhancing Novartis’ global footprint in hematology. With the planned acquisition of MorphoSys, we aim to further strengthen our leading pipeline and portfolio in oncology, adding to our capabilities and expertise,” a spokesperson for Novartis told BioProcess Insider. 

The transaction includes pelabresib, a late-stage BET inhibitor, and tulmimetostat, an early-stage investigational dual inhibitor of enhancer currently being tested in patients with solid tumors or lymphomas. 

“Building on our long-standing development partnership with MorphoSys, we look forward to continuing our work together to realize the full impact and value of their investigational medicines for patients with unmet needs,” the spokesperson said. 

MorphoSys will operate as an independent firm until the completion of the transaction, which is anticipated to happen in the first half of 2024.

About the Author(s)

Shreeyashi Ojha

Reporter, BioProcess Insider

Journalist covering the manufacturing and processing sectors for biopharmaceuticals globally.  

Originally from India, I am a Londoner at heart. I have recently graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London.  

Feel free to reach out to me at: [email protected].

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