In what may be the largest ever payment to a university for intellectual property, Gilead Sciences and Royalty Pharma have agreed to purchase Emory University’s royalty interest in emtricitabinea drug discovered by Emory researchersfor $525 million. A treatment for HIV used in combination with other antiretroviral agents, emtricitabine was licensed in 1996 to Triangle Pharmaceutical. Gilead purchased Triangle in 2003 and named the drug Emtriva.
Under the agreement, Gilead will be responsible for 65% of the payment to Emory. Royalty Pharma, an investment firm that targets royalty positions in marketed drugs, will pay the remaining 35%. Royalty also has investments in major drugs such as Rituxan and Thalomid.
Emory says it will invest the proceeds from the transaction in research, in accordance with the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, which encourages commercialization of federally funded university research. Much of the research on emtricitabine was done with NIH funding.
“We feel privileged and humbled to receive such extraordinary recognition for the value of our intellectual property,” says Emory President James W. Wagner. “These proceeds will be plowed back into our mission of research and discovery.”
According to Michael J. Mandl, the university’s executive vice president, about 10% of the total payment will accrue to Emory’s chemistry department. Undisclosed proceeds will also go to the three researchers who discovered emtricitabine: Dennis C. Liotta, a chemistry professor at Emory; Raymond F. Schinazi, a researcher at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center; and Woo-Baeg Choi, a former Emory researcher who is now CEO of FOB Synthesis.
“We have been told by our investment bankers that this is the largest university intellectual property deal ever done,” Mandl says. Emory was advised in the deal by Citigroup.
FDA approved Emtriva in July 2003 for the treatment of HIV infection in combination therapies. Emtricitabine is a component of Truvada, a combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate that was approved in 2004. Emtricitabine is also a component of a triple fixed-dose combination therapy under development by Gilead with Bristol-Myers Squibb.