Lilly takes POINT in radiopharma push

POINT Biopharma

Eli Lilly has made a foray into the radiopharmaceuticals category with an agreement to buy POINT Biopharma for around $1.4 billion.

If the $12.50-per-share all-cash deal is completed, it will give Lilly a stake in a PSMA-targeted radioligand therapy – PNT2002 – which is in the phase 3 SPLASH trial in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) after they have progressed on standard hormone-based therapy. Results are expected before the end of the year.

PNT2002 is a would-be competitor to Novartis’ Pluvicto (lutetium Lu 177 vipivotide tetraxetan), another PSMA-directed radioligand that was approved by the FDA last year as a treatment for patients with PSMA-positive metastatic CRPC previously treated with both hormonal and taxane-based chemotherapy.

POINT, meanwhile, also has another late-stage candidate for gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (GEP-NET) codenamed PNT2003 and targeting SSTR, which if it reaches the market would be a rival to Novartis’ Lutathera (lutetium [177Lu] oxodotreotide), approved as a second-line therapy for GEP-NETs and due to be filed shortly as first-line therapy.

Exclusive rights to both of POINT's therapies were licensed to Lantheus in a deal late last year worth up to $2 billion, including $260 million upfront.

Novartis has big ambitions for its radionuclide division, targeting billions of dollars in sales for the franchise, and POINT’s therapies will now be backed by the additional muscle of Lilly if the takeover goes through as anticipated before the end of this year. The boards of both companies have backed the transaction.

“Over the past few years, we have seen how well-designed radiopharmaceuticals can demonstrate meaningful results for patients with cancer and rapidly integrate into standards of care, yet the field remains in the early days of the impact it may ultimately deliver,” said Jacob Van Naarden, head of Lilly’s oncology unit Loxo@Lilly.

He added that the pharma group “sees the acquisition of POINT as the beginning of our investment in developing multiple meaningful radioligand medicines for hard-to-treat cancers, as we have done in small molecule and biologic oncology drug discovery and development.”

POINT’s earlier-stage pipeline includes PNT2004, a “pan-cancer” therapy targeting fibroblast activation protein-α (FAP-α) in phase 1.

After launching in 2020, POINT has already set up a fully licensed 180,000-square-foot radiopharmaceutical manufacturing facility on Lilly’s campus in Indianapolis, clearing one of the key obstacles to entering the radiopharma category, and also operates an R&D unit in Toronto, Canada.

Analysts have suggested that the market for radionuclide-based cancer therapeutics could top $10 billion a year, with limited competition in the market, as the hurdles to enter the category are set fairly high.

4 October, 2023