Pharmaceutical candidates in early to mid-stage clinical development are fetching more money when it comes to licensing deals and acquisitions, according to a quarterly report from law firm Morrison & Foerster.
The average second quarter deal was $22.2 million, up from $16.3 million in the first quarter. That average excludes two outsized deals in the first quarter: Reckitt Benckiser’s $482 million deal to license some of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Latin American over the counter products and AstraZeneca’s deal to pay $240 million up front to license Cambridge, Mass. biotech Moderna Therapeutics’ drug discovery technology.
Morrison & Foerster’s quarterly BioMeter index, which tracks up-front licensing payments for biotech assets, pegs the rising deal prices to higher values being placed on phase I and phase II assets. Phase I deals increased to an average of $39.3 million in the second quarter, up from $15.0 million in the prior quarter. The increase in size of the the average second deal was driven largely by Celgene’s deal to acquire global rights to MorphoSys’ multiple myeloma candidate MOR202. That deal is valued at up to $818 million if all development, regulatory and sales milestones are met. MOR202 is currently in phase I/IIa clinical trials. MorphoySys received a $92 million license fee up front.
The deal value for compounds at the pre-clinical and discovery stage held relatively steady in the second quarter at $10.5 million. But year over year, that average deal size is almost double the $5.5 million for pre-clinical and discovery deals in the second quarter of 2012.
BioMeter has little data from deals for phase III and approved products due to the dearth of such licensing and partnership deals to report. Morrison & Foerster says that the improved climate for initial public stock offerings will contribute to the absence of these late stage deals. Rather than seeking a partner to take a late-stage compound through clinical trials, companies able to raise money from the public markets can finance those studies themselves.