SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Onyx Pharmaceuticals claims Bayer breached an agreement to share profits from a lucrative and “potentially life-saving” cancer drug, Sorafenib. Onyx claims it “bet the company” in 1994 when it agreed to share the cost of developing the drug to treat advanced liver and kidney cancer, according to the federal complaint.
Onyx claims that though it’s a significantly smaller company, it had a “specialized understanding of an intracellular pathway associated with the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells,” which Bayer wanted. The collaboration led to Sorafenib, the investment in which was a “bet the company” proposition for Onyx, which says it sacrificed all other unrelated projects for its development.
Onyx claims that Bayer, knowing that Sorafenib was “destined for success,” worked secretly to develop a slightly different compound, fluoro-sorafenib, outside the agreement, “surreptitiously filing patent applications and initiating clinical trials.”
Onyx claims it helped Bayer identify fluoro-sorafenib in 1998, but Bayer concealed that it had filed patent applications until around 2005, when it announced it had begun clinical trials for the cancer drug DAST. Onyx says it was “unaware that DAST was a code name for fluoro-sorafenib.” Bayer continues to deny that DAST arose from its collaboration with Onyx.
Onyx, represented by Thomas Friel Jr. with Cooley, Godward & Kronish, asks that it be allowed to participate in the development of fluoro-sorafenib and that it be granted a 50 percent share in the profits.