After filing for bankruptcy last December, Clovis Oncology found a tentative buyer for its ovarian and prostate cancer drug, Rubraca. Austrian company Pharma& Schweiz GmbH emerged as the highest bidder for the drug and agreed to an upfront payment of $70 million, not including $50 million tied to regulatory milestones, and $15 million in sales-related milestones, Clovis shared in an SEC filing. The auction took place on March 30th.
Rubraca’s Vienna-based buyer, Pharma& Schweiz GmbH, has described “breathing life into proven medicine” as its goal and has been known to purchase the rights to other older medicines like multiple myeloma drug Farydak and the chemotherapy bendamustine in the past.
If the purchase agreement does not go through, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories of India will step in as the backup bidder.
Four months ago, Clovis filed for bankruptcy protection at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, and the new agreement is subject to the court’s approval. In its court filing, Clovis said it had assets amounting to around $320 million while its debt exceeded $750 million. To ensure that things are running smoothly through this transitional period, the firm has secured a $75 million loan.
One part of Clovis’s bankruptcy procedure also includes the selling of its cancer candidate FAP-2286 to Novartis. Novartis will be making an initial payment of $50 million, which will be followed by additional payments of $334 million and $297 million, which are tied to milestone and sales goals achievements.
Clovis’s 14-year failure is also tied to Rubraca sales, which peaked at $164 million in 2020. Since the pandemic hit, the number of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer has fallen, and therefore the popularity of the drug.
Rubraca has recently been subject to many commercial challenges. In June of last year, after two prior chemotherapies, Clovis had to pull its approval bid in BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer. This was partly due to trends in the FDA-said patient survival phase 3 trial that suggested Rubraca posed a threat to certain ovarian cancer sub-groups in the trial.
Rubraca was initially approved as an ovarian cancer drug in late 2016 by the FDA and is part of a group of drugs known as PARP inhibitors. This means that the drug works by blocking enzymes involved in DNA repair. The drug was later approved for prostate cancer as well.
Other PARP cancer drugs include AstraZeneca and Merck’s Lynparza, and GSK’s Zejula, both of which are considerably more popular than Rubraca.
Merck & Co. and AstraZeneca’s Lynparza are more commercially successful than Rubraca. Despite Clovis making its intention to acquirement public, it was unable to draw the interest of large pharmaceutical companies like GSK, who instead opted for its competitor Tesaro. Tesaro was bought by SK in 08 for over $5 billion.
Clovis’s market value has been in decline due to shares steadily falling. This continued until last year when shares were suspended on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, which eventually led them to be delisted from the exchange.