Schlieren ZH - The efficacy of ensovibep, a COVID-19 drug developed by Molecular Partners, has been confirmed as part of a Phase 2 study. Novartis will now seek to secure exclusive licensing rights. Molecular Partners will receive a one-off payment of 150 million Swiss francs and retain royalty rights of 22 percent of ensovibep sales.

According to a press release issued by the Schlieren-based biotechnology firm Molecular Partners, the COVID-19 drug ensovibep has proven to be effective and well tolerated in a Phase 2 study involving 407 patients carried out in conjunction with Novartis. Moreover, ensovibep is effective against all known variants, including Omicron. Following this positive data, Novartis has announced its intention to exercise its option to acquire licensing rights for ensovibep. As such, Novartis will make a milestone payment of 150 million Swiss francs, while Molecular Partners will also be entitled to a 22 percent royalty on sales in connection with commercialization activities for the drug.

Novartis will now turn its attention to accelerating scale-up plans for manufacturing activities and rapidly securing global regulatory authorizations. In a first step, the company will apply for an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The study confirmed that treatment with ensovibep led to a reduction in viral load within eight days as well as a 78 percent decline in emergency room admissions, hospital stays and deaths.

“Today’s data are a culmination of a persistent team effort, between ourselves and Novartis, to deliver a tailored antiviral with demonstrated safety and efficacy in global clinical trials”, comments Patrick Amstutz, CEO of Molecular Partners, in the press release. “As COVID-19 continues to burden healthcare systems across the globe, a range of treatments will be needed”, comments Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan. For this reason, Novartis will continue its collaboration with Molecular Partners.

Founded in 2004 by researchers from the University of Zurich (UZH), Molecular Partners is headquartered at the Bio-Technopark Schlieren-Zürich.

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