Merck Licenses Kelun-Biotech ADC’s in Deal Worth $9.3 Billion

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BP Elements, BioPharm International's BP Elements, January 2023, Volume 2, Issue 1

Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, will pay Kelun-Biotech up to $9l3 billion for seven early-stage oncology treatments.

Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, and Kelun-Biotech, a China-based clinical-stage biotechnology company that is a holding subsidiary of Sichuan Kelun Pharmaceutical, recently announced an exclusive license and collaboration agreement. Under the agreement, worth up to approximately $9.3 billion, companies will work together to develop seven investigational preclinical antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) for the treatment of cancer.

According to a Dec. 22, 2022 press release, Merck will receive exclusive global licenses to research, develop, manufacture, and commercialize preclinical ADC therapies, as well as receive exclusive options to obtain additional ADC candidate licenses. Kelun-Biotech will receive $175 million in upfront payments and an undisclosed equity investment. They will also be eligible for up to $9.3 billion plus tiered royalties for any commercialized ADC product, contingent on various development, regulatory and sales milestone, if they do not retain the rights to research, develop, manufacture, and commercialize certain ADCs for mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

“Advances in ADC technologies are yielding a new generation of candidates designed to more precisely target and deliver potent anticancer agents to the tumor site,” said Dean Y. Li, president, Merck Research Laboratories, in the release. “We continue to augment our oncology pipeline and look forward to working with the Kelun-Biotech team to advance these candidates to the patients that need them.”


“The further expansion of our collaboration with Merck provides a strong endorsement for our technology from a leader in the development of cancer treatments,” said Junyou Ge, CEO, Kelun-Biotech, in the release. “We are grateful for our partnership with the Merck scientists.”

Source: Merck