HK-based Hutchison MediPharma sees Janssen exit from HMPL-507 candidate alliance

An exit by Janssen Pharmaceuticals from a seven year alliance with Hutchison MediPharma (HMP) to develop a novel inflammation/immunology candidate, HMPL-507, will see the HK-based firm carry-on independently, according to a press release.

Hutchison China MediTech, or Chi-Med, which holds the majority of R&D unit HMP, said in an Aug. 19 release that a scientific assessment was that the candidate still represents a potential opportunity in the targeted therapies, and "possibly oncology."

"HMP intends, in due course, and subject to final regulatory toxicity testing results, to independently commence clinical study," Chi-Med said in the release.

Chi-Med CEO Christian Hogg

Chi-Med said that HMP had received $13 million in upfront, milestone and development payments for the program, allowing it to progress since the alliance started in 2008. No reason was given for end of the agreement by Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) unit Janssen.

In July, Chi-Med reported 6-month interim results that showed net profit dropped to $2.3 million from $5.4 million compared to the same period a year ago. The results did however note major stepped-up clinical activity in the period. The company, in a detailed update on all of its pipeline candidates, also said it sees a threefold expansion in production by the end of this year or early 2016 in own-brand products.

Earlier the same month, Chi-Med cemented its already majority stake in HMP via a share exchange deal with Japan's Mitsui & Co. in a disclosure notice with few details, but ahead of study results later this year on a promising candidate for China approval.

The transaction raised the direct holding of Chi-Med in HMP to 99.75% followed just a few months after a May notice of a positive first proof-of-concept study result for fruquintinib, a candidate for treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer in China.

The results triggered milestone payments from Eli Lilly ($LLY) of $18 million to HMP. The firms entered into a co-development, and commercialization agreement on the candidate in October 2013.

- here's the release (PDF)