Medarex, a Princeton, NJ, biotech focused on monoclonal antibodies, has done dozens of straight licensing deals in the past, including an agreement signed last year with Pfizer to produce 50 antibody products over 10 years. Pfizer paid $80 million up front and could pay Medarex more than $400 million if all the products win regulatory approval.
However, another Medarex alliance illustrates an increasingly popular, more collaborative style of alliance, says Donald Drakeman, CEO of Medarex. Bristol-Myers Squibb and the company have agreed to devote $200 million (two-thirds from Bristol-Meyers, one-third from Medarex) to develop MDX-010, a melanoma treatment now in clinical trials.
With its Big Pharma partner, Medarex will be able to run parallel clinical trials rather than work sequentially, and Bristol-Myers Squibb can show Medarex how to operate a sales and commercial operation. "We have the opportunity to be mentored by the world's greatest cancer company," says Drakeman, who adds that the collaboration will give Medarex the resources and experience to develop the drug for treatment of other kinds of tumors.
A new survey by Deloitte Research finds that 72% of small- and medium-sized biotechs expect to increase the number of strategic alliances they pursue over the next three years. For 66% of the companies, strategic alliances are their primary business strategy.
Big Pharma, too, is showing increased interest in alliances. Last year, Merck & Co., famous for its independence in research operations, completed 50 …