MRC Technology, a UK-based medical research charity, has monetised a portion of its royalty interest in a leading cancer drug, pembrolizumab (marketed by Merck & Co., Inc. as Keytruda®) with a private equity fund managed by DRI Capital (DRI) for US $150M (£115.6M). Pembrolizumab is a new generation treatment which stimulates the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Scientists at MRC Technology humanised the antibody-based treatment, which has been approved in the United States for treating advanced melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer, with breakthrough designations under FDA’s accelerated approval pathway awarded for colorectal cancer and classical Hodgkin Lymphoma. A number of trials in other cancers are showing promising results.
Dr Dave Tapolczay, Chief Executive, MRC Technology said: “Keytruda is already transforming the lives of thousands of patients and its legacy is now enabling MRC Technology to magnify our impact in finding new treatments. The charity focuses on areas where there are unmet patient needs and being self-funded means we rely on royalty income to advance further medical breakthroughs. The monetisation allows us to expand our philanthropic activities and invest in research areas others aren’t able to pursue.”
“We are pleased that our fund Drug Royalty III has acquired a portion of MRC Technology’s royalty entitlement on the worldwide sales of Keytruda, an important new cancer drug,” said Behzad Khosrowshahi, President & Chief Executive Officer of DRI. “DRI has been a global leader in working creatively with royalty recipients, including charitable organisations, academic institutions and companies. This important deal with the team at MRC Technology, who we have known for many years, further reinforces that.”
MRC Technology is revising its strategic plan and will continue to consult with key partners, including the Medical Research Council, academia, other charities and the pharmaceutical industry. It will now also be able to pursue exciting novel research and development collaborations with new partners. The charity is already in the process of expanding its diagnostics capability in Edinburgh and has increased the work it does with UK and international charities to bring innovative research closer to patients. Earlier this year (April 2016) MRC Technology relocated its laboratory and some employees from the London office to state-of-the-art facilities in Stevenage.
MRC Technology received financial advice on the royalty buy-out from MTS Health Partners and legal advice from Covington & Burling LLP. Drug Royalty III was advised on legal matters by Hogan Lovells.