BeiGene, Assembly Bio Ink $540M China HBV Deal; Shares Surge In Pre-Market


BeiGene (BGNE) and Assembly Biosciences (ASMB) have announced a new collaboration in China for Assembly’s three clinical-stage core inhibitor candidates for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Shares in ASMB are surging 9% in Monday’s pre-market trading, while BGNE is up 3%.

Under the terms of the agreement, Assembly has granted BeiGene exclusive rights to develop and commercialize ABI-H0731, ABI-H2158 and ABI-H3733 in China, including Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. ABI-H0731 and ABI-H2158 are in ongoing Phase 2 clinical trials and ABI-H3733 is in Phase 1 development.

BeiGene will be responsible for development, regulatory submissions, and commercialization in China. Assembly retains full worldwide rights outside of the partnered territory for its HBV portfolio.

Assembly will receive an upfront cash payment of $40 million plus up to $500 million in potential development, regulatory and net sales milestone payments. Assembly is also eligible to receive tiered royalties of net sales. BeiGene will contribute initial funding for clinical development in China, after which the development costs for the territory will be shared equally by the parties.

“This collaboration with Assembly expands our portfolio beyond oncology to liver diseases, which are highly prevalent and represent a high unmet need in China,” said John Oyler, BeiGene CEO. “Since one-third of the world’s individuals living with chronic hepatitis B are in China, we are committed to leveraging our capabilities to further develop these novel therapies for patients with HBV infection.”

Chronic HBV infection is a debilitating disease of the liver that afflicts over 250 million people worldwide with up to 90 million people in China, as estimated by the World Health Organization. HBV is a global epidemic that affects more people than hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV infection combined—with a higher morbidity and mortality rate.

The current standard of care for patients with chronic HBV infection is life-long suppressive treatment with medications that reduce, but do not eliminate, the virus, resulting in very low cure rates.

BeiGene currently markets two internally-discovered oncology products: BTK inhibitor BRUKINSA (zanubrutinib) in the United States and China, and anti-PD-1 antibody tislelizumab in China.

“BGNE shares have appreciated 20% YTD (~70% in the last 9 months) and we expect further upside as Brukinsa (zanubrutinib) and tislelizumab (‘tisle’) continue to gain approvals, particularly in larger indications such as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) for tisle, for instance” cheered Maxim’s Jason McCarthy on July 10.

“Given the robust early-stage pipeline that appears to be rapidly advancing in the clinic, in addition to the ongoing late-stage clinical programs, we reiterate our Buy rating and raise our PT to $250, from $190” the analyst added.

Indeed, BGNE boasts a Strong Buy Street consensus, with 5 recent buy ratings and just 1 hold rating. However, due to the recent rally, the average analyst price target now indicates 7% downside potential from current levels. (See BeiGene stock analysis on TipRanks)

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