Boehringer Ingelheim puts a new pillar in its oncology pipeline. The German giant acquired a Phase II compound for the treatment of lung cancer from the Korean pharma company Hamni.

Non-small cell lung cancer makes up about 90% of all lung cancers. A targeted therapy includes the inhibition of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), that helps cells to grow and divide.  In some patients suffering from non-small cell lung cancer the EGFR gene is mutated and the high expression of the protein leads to an increased proliferation of the cancer cells. However, when treated with the inhibitor, many patients get resistant to the treatment.

Therefore, Hamni Pharmaceutical has developed a 3rd generation EGFR targeted therapy, HM61713, that is designed for resistant patients. The compound is currently in Phase II, but preparations for Phase III have already started and should start in 2016. That’s when Boehringer Ingelheim steps in. The German company payed $50M (€45M) upfront and promised $680M (€616M) milestone payments for the development and global commercialisation of the drug. Exceptions are South Korea, China and Hong Kong.

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HM61713 comes along with two other lung cancer franchises from Boehringer Ingelheim, which are already approved. The company has now more than 10 potential cancer treatments in clinical development, including immune oncology approaches like an mRNA-based therapeutic vaccine under development in collaboration with CureVac.

What’s futher interesting is that Boehringer Ingelheim just sold its generic business Roxanne for $2.7Bn (€2.4Bn) to the British pharma company Hixam. The same step was taken from Allergan last week, selling its generic business for $40.5Bn (€37Bn) to the Israelian Teva Pharmaceutical. The expansion of its lung cancer portfolio is another hint of Boehringer’s strategy to focus on its core competencies instead of investing in a widespread pipeline.

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