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Medarex: Realizing its Potential?

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biotechnology management case

Mark J. Ahn1, Alan Leong2, Wei Wu1, and Masum Rahman1
1Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University; 2University of Washington, Bothell

Summary and key issue/decision: Medarex, Inc., a Princeton, New Jersey-based development-stage biotechnology company was founded in 1991. Medarex had partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb for its Phase III product MDX-010 (ipilimumab), and had licensed its technology to other leading industry partners including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and Amgen for various antibody-based licensing products. This decision-based case assesses the strategic options facing Howard H. Pien, chairman and chief executive officer of Medarex, on how to respond to a proposed acquisition offer from Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2009.

Companies/institutions: Medarex, Bristol-Myers Squibb

Technology: UltiMAb Human Antibody Development System for fully human antibody-based products in multiple therapeutic areas (e.g., cancer, autoimmune diseases) that has generated over 30 drug candidates to date.

Stage of development at time of issue/decision: Medarex’s lead drug, MDX-010 (ipilimumab), an immunotherapy for advanced melanoma, was in the final stage of Phase III trials. The company also had one of the deepest pipelines of human monoclonal antibodies in the biotechnology industry: seven of thirty-four were in Phase III clinical trials, eight were in Phase I or I/II, with the remainder in Phase I or pre-clinical stages of development.

Indication/therapeutic area: The primary developmental focus of ipilimumab was for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. MDX-010 was also being studied as a monotherapy and combination treatment in a number of indications including prostate, breast, renal, and ovarian cancers.

Geography: USA

Keywords: monoclonal antibody, acquisition, immunology, oncology

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Building the Case for Biotechnology is published by Logos Press