Medicago and Philip Morris sign influenza vaccines agreement for China

Medicago to receive up to US$12m in royalties

Medicago, a Canadian developer of vaccines, and Philip Morris Products (PMP), have signed a US$4.5m licensing agreement, which gives PMP an exclusive licence to develop, market and manufacture Medicago's pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccines for China.

In addition, Medicago has signed an exclusive, worldwide licence for a portfolio of plant-based protein development technologies from PMP.

PMP is a subsidiary of tobacco firm Philip Morris International, which holds a 40% stake in Medicago through its Philip Morris Investments arm. The firm already sells Marlboro cigarettes in China.

As well as the upfront payment, Medicago is eligible to receive development milestone payments of $7.5m, plus royalty payments on any future sales of pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccines by PMP in China based on Medicago’s technologies.

Under the plant technologies agreement, Medicago will pay $0.7m to PMP, plus royalties on any future sales of Medicago products that use these technologies, which include tools and methods for generating proteins in plants, licensed from PMP.

Andy Sheldon, chief executive of Medicago, said: ‘Strengthening our VLP platform and international expansion to emerging markets like China is a key component of our growth strategy, and this partnership represents an important milestone in achieving this strategy.’

Medicago's pipeline includes a US Phase IIa clinical trial for a quadrivalent seasonal flu vaccine, with interim data expected in the first quarter of 2013. A Phase I clinical trial for a H5N1 VLP vaccine with a new adjuvant is planned in partnership with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), with interim data also expected in Q1 next year.

Medicago has also agreed a strategic alliance with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma to develop a vaccine for rotavirus, and at least two additional vaccine candidates.

Companies