Molecular Partners to Regain Global Rights to Abicipar

ZURICH-SCHLIEREN, Switzerland, Aug. 09, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ad hoc announcement pursuant to Art. 53 LR
Molecular Partners AG (SIX: MOLN; NASDAQ: MOLN), a clinical-stage biotech company developing a new class of custom-built protein drugs known as DARPin® therapeutics, announced today the receipt of notification from its partner, AbbVie Inc., regarding its termination of the license and collaboration agreement for the investigational drug abicipar pegol for the treatment of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) and Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). As such, Molecular Partners will regain the development and commercial rights of abicipar on a worldwide basis.

“There remains a significant unmet medical need for patients living with nAMD and DME, and we remain confident in abicipar’s potential to offer these patients a differentiated treatment option over existing therapies,” said Patrick Amstutz, Chief Executive Officer of Molecular Partners. “Our focus for this program will be determining the best path to value creation within the context of our expansive portfolio of antiviral and immuno-oncology therapies in development.”

Molecular Partners will form a special committee to evaluate the program and determine appropriate next steps. In addition, Molecular Partners and AbbVie will continue their ongoing discovery alliance, in which AbbVie will continue to evaluate additional DARPin® candidates for ophthalmic indications. The return of the abicipar program is not expected to impact Molecular Partners’ financial outlook for 2021 or previously issued guidance.

Abicipar is a long-acting anti-VEGF DARPin® molecule which was invented by Molecular Partners and initially licensed to Allergan in 2011. The program has been through two positive Phase 3 studies, CEDAR and SEQUOIA, which supported the non-inferior efficacy of the abicipar quarterly dosing regimen to maintain vision gains with more than 50 percent fewer injections versus ranibizumab (13 vs. 6) dosed monthly in the first year.

With the acquisition of Allergan by AbbVie, the rights to abicipar were transferred to AbbVie. In June 2020, AbbVie received a Complete Response Letter to the Biologics License Application for abicipar pegol, indicating that the rate of intraocular inflammation observed following administration of Abicipar pegol resulted in an unfavorable benefit-risk ratio in the treatment of nAMD (AMD), and that additional work would be required to demonstrate a lower rate of ocular inflammation than what was previously seen in the Phase 3 studies.