UNITED KINGDOM – Bristol Myers Squibb has acquired Turning Point Therapeutics in a US$4.1 billion deal and a new cancer asset slated to hit the markets next year, setting in motion a rivalry with Roche.

BMS will gain access to repotrectinib, a midstage candidate in testing for first-line lung cancer as a potential competitor to Roche’s Rozlytrek.

The Big Pharma landed Turning Point for US$76 per share, with both companies’ boards approving the transaction that is slated to close in the third quarter.

The buy will bolster BMS’s medium- to long-term growth strategy, providing a pipeline of precision oncology medicines that target common mutations that cause the growth of cancer cells.

In making a multibillion-dollar offer, Bristol Myers is betting repotrectinib will outperform Rozlytrek and another drug in its class, Bayer’s Vitrakvi.

Roche paid US$1.7 billion for Ignyta, which discovered Rozlytrek, while Bayer licensed Vitrakvi for US$400 million from the former Loxo Oncology — now part of Eli Lilly — in a deal that included up to US$1.6 billion in total payments.

Rozlytrek had sales of 49 million Swiss francs (US$51 million) last year, while Bayer didn’t report 2021 sales of Vitrakvi, which can be used broadly in solid tumors with a mutation called NTRK.

Repotrectinib is the star lead asset, a next-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor that targets the ROS1 and NTRK gene mutations—just like Rozlytrek.

The therapy is approved in a type of mutated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), solid tumors and ROS1-positive, advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

Repotrectinib has earned three breakthrough-therapy tags and has demonstrated a longer duration of response compared to existing ROS1 agents in first-line NSCLC during a phase 1/2 trial.

Other studies involving the med include late-stage adult and pediatric advanced solid tumor trials and an earlier stage KRAS-targeting combination study.

The therapy is expected to be approved in the US in the second half of 2023, according to BMS. The Big Pharma will also “explore the potential” of Turning Point’s other candidates, which include the solid tumor therapies elzovantinib and TPX-0046.

Turning Point President and CEO Athena Countouriotis, M.D., said with BMS’ commercial capabilities and manufacturing footprint, the biotech can accelerate efforts to bring its medicines to patients.

BMS CEO Giovanni Caforio, M.D., meanwhile, said the acquisition continues the company’s “strong track record of strategic business development to further enhance our growth profile.”

BMS has several therapies approved or in development for NSCLC, including Opdivo, Yervoy, Opdualag and CC-90011.

Liked this article? Sign up to receive our regular email newsletters, focused on Africa and World’s healthcare industry, directly into your inbox. SUBSCRIBE HERE