India's Dr. Reddy's gets chunk of oncology candidate E7777 rights from Eisai

India's Dr. Reddy's Laboratories ($RDY) has snapped up a chunk of development rights for Tokyo-based Eisai's Phase II oncology candidate E7777 in Japan aimed at skin T-cell lymphoma with plans afoot for a U.S. Phase III trial.

Dr. Reddy's CEO G.V. Prasad

The Phase III work covers CTCL, the most common form of T-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The move creates room for both firms in corporate strategies, with Eisai still working on other oncology candidates as well as neurology and Dr. Reddy's (DRL) expanding its reach into oncology and dermatology as it also works to build a biosimilar portfolio in emerging markets.

Dr. Reddy's gets rights to E7777 (denileukin diftitox) outside of Japan and Asia, though an option exception has been carved for India. Financial terms were not disclosed, though Eisai noted milestone payments covering marketing approvals and sales targets are part of the pact.

"The collaboration between DRL and Eisai is a tremendous win-win. E7777 has significant potential as an important component of systemic therapy for CTCL (cutaneous T-cell lymphoma)," Raghav Chari, executive vice president at the Proprietary Products Group of DRL, said in a statement.

"This therapy represents an extension of our current efforts in the dermatology space to an important segment of skin-related cancers."

Dr. Reddy's sells a filgrastim (Neupogen) biosimilar in India and has a biosimilar of rituximab (Rituxan) there as well along with some emerging market countries with an application pending with the U.S. FDA as well.

For Eisai, the deal helps it turn focus on other oncology candidates and still have a strong handle on the candidate bought from Ligand Pharmaceuticals in 2006. A version is currently marketed in the U.S. under the brand Ontak.

"This agreement aligns with Eisai's drive to contribute to patients in our focused field of oncology as quickly as possible," Terushige Iike, chief product creation officer of Eisai Product Creation Systems, said in the statement.

- here's the Dr. Reddy's release
- and the Eisai release