Array BioPharma shares jump after drug developer details Novartis deal

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Shares of Array BioPharma soared Friday after the drug developer said it will buy worldwide rights to a potential cancer treatment in late-stage clinical testing from Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis.

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The Boulder, Colorado, company said the deal is conditional on Novartis closing some acquisitions with British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline PLC that it announced last spring. The companies said in April that Novartis would buy Glaxo's cancer-drug business for more than $14 billion.

Array didn't detail the financial terms of its purchase of encorafenib from Novartis, other than to say it involved a "de minimis payment" and no future milestone or royalty payments by either company. "De minimis" is a Latin expression meaning minimal or insignificant.

Researchers are studying encorafenib in combination with another treatment, binimetinib, in a late-stage trial of some patients with melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer.

Array had previously ironed out a deal with Novartis to regain global rights to binimetinib.

Late-stage research is typically the last phase of clinical study before a drugmaker seeks regulatory approval. Array said the drug is being studied in 11 active clinical trials.

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As part of the deal announced Friday, Array agreed to seek a partner to help with both global development and European commercialization of encorafenib and binimetinib.

Shares of Array shot up about 35 percent, or $1.76, to $6.81 in midday trading Friday. The stock hit $7.58 earlier in the session, its highest price in several years.