Alnylam Inks $1 Billion Deal with Takeda

Talk about staking a claim to local biotech turf. Early this morning, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Japan’s biggest drugmaker, announced jointly with Cambridge, MA-based Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY) that the two companies have signed a strategic partnership deal that is potentially worth more than $1 billion over five years.

This comes on the heels of Takeda’s record $8.8 billion acquisition of Millennium Pharmaceuticals, also based in Cambridge, last month—the largest deal in Massachusetts biotech history. Takeda is clearly amping up its R&D efforts, and the strength of the yen versus the dollar may have something to do with the timing of all this.

Alnylam is developing RNAi technology to manipulate genes associated with cancer and other diseases. Under the terms of the deal, Takeda will become the U.S. firm’s exclusive Asian strategic partner—and will deliver a $100 million payment upfront, followed by $50 million in technology transfer payments involving RNAi therapeutics. This gives Takeda non-exclusive licenses to the RNAi technology. The $1 billion-plus estimate is the sum of R&D investments and commercial milestone payments expected through 2013.

“This landmark alliance is the first major RNAi therapeutics partnership between a Japanese pharmaceutical company and a U.S. biotechnology company, representing a new frontier in the advancement of RNAi therapeutics to patients on a global basis,” Alnylam said in a press release.

The companies have agreed to collaborate on drug discovery R&D for certain therapeutic targets. Takeda has the right of first negotiation to commercialize Alnylam’s RNAi therapeutic programs for the Asian market, while Alnylam has the right to co-commercialize Takeda’s RNAi programs for the U.S. market on a 50-50 basis.

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