Legal experts at the firm have played a pivotal role in assisting AstraZeneca and Merck & Co., Inc. formulate a global strategic oncology collaboration to develop and commercialise AstraZeneca’s Lynparza (olaparib) for multiple cancer types. Lynparza is an innovative, first-in-class inhibitor that is currently approved for the treatment of BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer.

Gowling WLG acted for AstraZeneca on this transaction, which is thought to be one of the biggest deals by value of its type. Merck will pay AstraZeneca up to $8.5 billion in total consideration, including $1.6 billion upfront, $750 million for certain license options and up to $6.15 billion contingent upon successful achievement of future regulatory and sales milestones. The team included Patrick Duxbury, Luke Kempton, Jenny Davies, Chris Freeth, Mathilda Davidson and Ammina Rao plus Jeremy Millington in corporate. The AstraZeneca in house legal team was led by Deputy General Counsel Liam McIlveen and Senior Counsel Matt Chuter.

Commenting on the firm’s role, Patick Duxbury, partner, said:

“It has been a pleasure to be able to assist in relation to such an important programme to develop new cancer therapies. Combining and collaborating the efforts of such major players in oncology is key to driving the innovation, new ideas and problem-solving skills that are required to tackle cancer.

“We have been proud to add to the expertise that these two companies bring to pharmaceutical development with a legal team that brings sector focused insight and experience to bear on such a major deal.”

The companies will develop and commercialise Lynparza jointly, both as monotherapy and in combination with other potential medicines. Independently, the companies will develop and commercialise Lynparza in combination with their respective PD-L1 and PD-1 medicines, Imfinzi (durvalumab) and Keytruda (pembrolizumab).