Janssen the latest Big Pharma to join Hanmi's South Korea deal machine

South Korea's Hanmi Pharmaceutical has licensed long-acting GLP/GCG analog diabetes and obesity candidate HM12525A to Janssen Pharmaceuticals, showcasing a dealmaking spree this year with major drug firms that includes two blockbusters this month alone.

Under the deal, Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) unit Janssen gained exclusive global rights outside South Korea and China to develop and commercialize Phase II candidate oxyntomodulin-based therapies, including the HM12525A (LAPSGLP/GCG), a GLP-1/glucagon receptor dual agonist, according to a press release.

Janssen plans to start Phase II clinical trials for HM12525A in 2016, according to the release.

Hanmi CEO Gwan Sun Lee

Seoul-based Hanmi will get an upfront payment of $105 million, and be eligible for as much as $810 million in development, regulatory and sales milestones, plus tiered double-digit royalty payments on product sales.

The therapy has shown early evidence of improved blood glucose, body weight and insulin outcomes for the once-a-weekly oxyntomodulin-based therapy to treat diabetes and obesity.

In June, Hanmi reported a placebo-controlled, single ascending dose Phase I study of HM12525A showed safety in healthy volunteers in a poster presentation to the recent European Association for the Study of Diabetes meeting in Stockholm.

The agreement remains subject to the terms of the U.S. Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.

Earlier this month, Hanmi signed a deal with French pharma giant Sanofi ($SNY) to license its GLP-1 diabetes treatments as Sanofi attempts to revive its diabetes division, according to a report by Reuters.

In that deal, Hanmi will receive €400 million ($434 million) upfront and up to €3.5 billion in development and sales milestones as well as double-digit royalties on net sales, Reuters reported.

Sanofi in return gets an exclusive worldwide license to develop and commercialize the GLP-1 diabetes treatments. Hanmi retains an exclusive option to co-commercialize the drugs in South Korea and China, Reuters said.

Earlier this year, Hanmi clocked-in licensing deals with Eli Lilly ($LLY) worth as much as $690 million for its oral Bruton's tyrosine kinase inhibitor.

As well, a deal worth as much as $730 million was inked with privately-held German firm Boehringer Ingelheim for novel non-small cell lung cancer therapy HM61713

Speculation also runs high that the firm may see one more deal before the end of the year with other candidates. Those include growth hormone LAPS candidate HM10560A, and oncology selective pan-RAF inhibitor candidate HM95573 in the company's stable.

- here's the release