USA—Royalty Pharma, a major life sciences innovation financier, has announced that it will pay US$525 million to biotechnology startup ImmuNext for the right to receive royalties and milestone payments from an autoimmune disease medicine that the privately held business licensed to Sanofi.

Sanofi purchased the drug from ImmuNext in 2017 and promised milestone payments of up to US$500 million plus tiered royalties on potential sales.

This new development follows the promising results of a mid-stage study of patients with relapsed multiple sclerosis published last year.

The French manufacturer, Sanofi  advanced the medicine, known as frexalimab, to a Phase 3 trial, according to BioPharma.

This deal will ensure that Royalty receive “substantial” milestone payments from Sanofi, as well as full royalties on up to US$2 billion in global sales of the medicine.

A portion of royalties on sales above that threshold will be split with ImmuNext shareholders. Royalty announced Thursday that tiered royalties vary from high single-digit to low double-digits.

Royalty said that with frexalimab in its portfolio, it will have 15 investigational medicines with the potential to produce combined peak annual royalties “significantly greater” than US$1 billion.

Approved products will supplement the cash flow from existing marketed pharmaceuticals, such as GSK’s asthma treatment Trelegy and Roche’s spinal muscular atrophy medication Evyrsdi.

In 2017, ImmuNext and Sanofi envisioned frexalimab, then called INX-021, as a treatment for a range o In 2017, ImmuNext and Sanofi proposed frexalimab, then known as INX-021, as a therapy for a variety of disorders. Since then, Sanofi has seen both successes and setbacks.

In April, Sanofi halted development of the medicine for Sjögren’s Syndrome due to dismal research results, claiming that research into two types of MS, Type 1 diabetes and lupus, is ongoing.

The MS signal is the farthest advanced. The findings from the mid-stage trial were published in The New England Journal of Medicine in February.

Sanofi intends to petition for approval of the drug in 2027. Sanofi warned investors in December that the medication may produce annual sales of more than 5 billion euros (US$5.4 billion).

Royalty expects frexalimab to produce royalties through 2041.

Royalty has continuously increased its portfolio through a number of transactions. In October, it acquired a larger share of Evrysdi’s royalties. Previously, Royalty moved into gene therapy, agreeing to pay US$300 million for a 5% royalty on a Ferring Pharmaceuticals cancer treatment.

This is an addition to acquiring  a share of the royalty rights to Karuna Therapeutics’ investigational schizophrenia medication in  March 2023.

For all the latest healthcare industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, and YouTube Channel, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and like us on Facebook