Celgene Hands Cancer Drug Back to BeiGene, Plus $150 Million

Celgene Hands Cancer Drug Back to BeiGene, Plus $150 Million

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese drugmaker BeiGene Ltd. will take back the global rights to its cancer drug tislelizumab from Celgene Corp., following the U.S. company’s blockbuster deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

Bristol-Myers and Celgene agreed to their $74 billion deal in January, and mergers of that size often result in areas of significant overlap. Tislelizumab belongs to a class of cancer drugs that target what’s called PD-1. Bristol-Myers already sells a similar drug, the blockbuster Opdivo, meaning that it likely has little use for the BeiGene partnership.

As part of the agreement, Celgene will pay BeiGene $150 million, the Beijing-based company said in a statement. Tislelizumab is in the final stage of testing, and the company said it expects to be able to begin selling the treatment later this year.

Chinese drugmakers have increasingly focused on developing their own innovative drugs for cancer and other complex diseases, luring talent and investments from Europe and the U.S.

John Oyler, BeiGene’s chief executive officer, said the company has already been running most of the clinical trials for the drug, and has been recruiting around the globe to expand its operations.

“We’re on paths for global approvals,” Oyler said in a telephone interview Monday.

Celgene announced that it was buying the global rights, excluding most of Asia, to tislelizumab in 2017 and paid the company $263 million upfront and took a $150 million equity stake. Under the terms, Celgene promised to make more payments based on the drug’s clinical progress and future sales. BeiGene also took over Celgene’s commercial operations in China.

To contact the reporter on this story: Drew Armstrong in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Drew Armstrong at, Jeff Sutherland

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.