The firm said the drug, being developed, would be a first of its kind to treat haematological cancers (blood cancer). The company expects accelerated approvals from regulators for the drug, which will cater to unmet patient need.
According to the agreement, AbbVie will pay Lupin an upfront payment of $30 million for an exclusive licence for the drug. Upon successful completion of regulatory development and commercial milestones, Lupin is eligible to receive total milestone payments of up to $947 million. Additionally, the company will be entitled to receive double-digit royalty on sales of product and will retain commercial rights to market the drug in India. Milestone-based payments and royalties are, however, linked to programme success.
"This is a first in class drug discovery programme delivered exclusively by Lupin right from concept generation through various stages of drug discovery and development," said Dr Raj Kamboj, president of Lupin's novel drug discovery and development programme.
The drug, called MALT1, is in a pre-clinical stage. Lupin did not share estimated approval timelines stating that those would be discussed with Abbvie. This is also Lupin's first novel molecule and has been developed by its research team in Pune. Among its peers, Glenmark has been outlicensing under development drugs in exchange of milestone based payments. However, none of its novel molecules has been commercialised yet.
Global pharmaceutical majors such as Novartis and Astra Zeneca are also investing to develop blood cancer drugs. Kamboj, however, is confident of the programme success.
He said MALT1 had the potential to treat multiple indications and added the company had taken a leadership position in developing targeted treatment for haematological cancers. The global market size of haematological drugs is around $80 billion, he said.
Lupin Managing Director Nilesh Gupta said the company had two more drugs that are undergoing trials at present. One of them is for treatment of non-small cell lung cancers while the other is for chronic kidney disease. Gupta said the company would continue to spend around 10 per cent of its sales on research and development, and focus remains on building portfolio of complex and specialty drugs.
"Delivering on new drugs was a key element of (Lupin Founder) Dr Deshbandhu Gupta's vision. We are extremely proud of being able to realise his vision to bring new treatments to patients in need. We are very pleased to partner with AbbVie who share a commitment to deliver high quality medicines in areas that lack approved treatment and have a dire medical need. Their proven success in rapidly commercializing new targeted oncology treatments made them our partner of choice for this program," Gupta said in a statement.