The duvelisib hot potato is tossed to a new owner as Verastem looks to reorganize around the pipeline

When Infinity put up duvelisib for a no-money-down instant deal, the biotech was looking for a quick exit from a clinical disaster. AbbVie had walked away from their alliance after looking at how the data stacked up in a crowded field.

And while it was approvable, it wasn’t looking pretty to anyone who thought in commercial terms.

One Big Pharma’s trash, though, was seen as a biotech treasure as a deeply troubled Verastem stepped up to grab the PI3K-delta/gamma — promising to run it across the goal lines at the FDA. And they did just that, only with little to show for it.

Now, after racking up just $12 million in product sales last year, it’s Verastem’s turn to walk away — only they get $70 million in cash for the underperforming cancer therapeutic, with a chance to add $200 million-plus if the new owner can make a success of it.

Secura Bio now counts itself as the owner of the drug, sold as Copiktra. And Secura will add up to $45 million in milestones if the drug is approved in the US and Europe for peripheral T-cell lymphoma. There’s $50 million if Secura can push sales over the $100 million annual sales level, which also comes with low double-digit royalties over that $100 million mark.

Verastem now wants to create a string of catalysts to whet investors’ interest in its RAF/MEK inhibitor VS-6766 for low grade ovarian cancer and a FAK inhibitor — defactinib — program in KRAS mutant tumors. Investigators are focused on KRAS G12V, part of a busy field after Amgen opened up things with positive data for NSCLC. “Registration-directed” Phase II trials get underway before the end of this year.

Verastem lost about $149 million last year, as it took its total burn past the half-billion dollar mark. Brian Stuglik, an Eli Lilly vet, jumped on as CEO a year ago, replacing Robert Forrester. Now Stuglik’s team is betting that this time they’re going to get it right. Or at least as good as it gets.

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