Genmab CEO On 50:50 Partnerships & Creating “Iconic” Innovation Powerhouse

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Europe lags behind the US in terms of biotech success stories, but one company bucking that trend is Denmark-headquartered Genmab, with a market cap of over USD 25 billion. Dual-listed on the Copenhagen stock exchange and on NASDAQ in the US, there are five products based on Genmab science on the market today, and the company’s transition to a fully integrated commercial company is well underway. In conversation with PharmaBoardroom, Genmab President and CEO Jan van de Winkel discusses some of the fundamentals behind the firm’s rapid ascent and how its evolving partnership model is paving the way towards an even brighter future.

 

Outlining the source of Genmab’s current revenues, van de Winkel notes that “There are currently five products on the market based on Genmab’s science which provide robust and repeated recurring revenue for the company. Revenues for four of these products – marketed by our partners [including Janssen, Novartis, and Horizon Therapeutics] – are being funnelled back into developing our pipeline.”

 

Looking to the future, van de Winkel is keen to hold on to more product rights and strike different types of deals depending on the partner and the asset. He explains, “When we partnered with Janssen for Darzalex® in 2012, we were a very small company with no commercial presence and no ability to run multiple parallel Phase III trials as Janssen could. However, since then our market cap has risen tremendously, and we now have a very good cash position of around USD three billion. Therefore, we have started moving towards 50:50-type partnerships where we contribute 50 percent of the expenses but also get 50 percent of the profits, which is a lot more than we get for drugs like Darzalex® and Kesimpta® [marketed by Novartis].”

 

We have started moving towards 50:50-type partnerships where we contribute 50 percent of the expenses but also get 50 percent of the profits

Jan van de Winkel, Genmab

 

van de Winkel continues, “We currently have a 50:50 partnership agreement in place with AbbVie which we started in June 2020, based on three bi-specific programs, the lead program being Epcoritamab, which is doing well in early clinical testing. We are planning multiple Phase III trials in parallel in 2022 and the first trial, in relapsed diffuse large B cell lymphoma, started in early 2021. Together with AbbVie we are responsible for commercialisation in the US and Japan, but for the first time we will sell the product as Genmab.”

 

“Our partnership with Seagen is another 50:50, but for a product with less commercial potential. However, it serves a critical need for people with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer. Creating a US sales team allows us to dip our toes in the waters and build commercialisation as Genmab in the future.”

 

“Another partnership we are particularly proud of is with BioNTech which, in addition to creating a COVID-19 vaccine, also has a keen focus on cancer. We have multiple 50:50 programs with them, both in the preclinical and clinical stages, and I firmly believe in working together and partnering with such players.”

 

There is therefore a clear evolution in the firm’s partnership strategy, with van de Winkel admitting that “while the company will likely embrace partnering for the foreseeable future, the dynamic will change from the partner company doing most of the trials and commercialisation to doing a larger proportion ourselves.” He strikes an ambitious tone: “Our ambition is to create an iconic leading biotech innovation powerhouse and we are well on our way.”

 

Read the full interview here


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