Nobel winner Honjo eyes decision on Opdivo lawsuit in July

The Japan Times

OSAKA - Nobel laureate Tasuku Honjo said he will make a decision as early as July on whether to sue Ono Pharmaceutical Co. to demand a hike in the licensing fee for cancer drug Opdivo, which was developed based on his research. "It would lead to serious trouble in the future if this case is settled in an ambiguous way," Honjo said in a recent interview, hinting at his intention to continue negotiating with the drugmaker. The 2018 Nobel laureate in medicine is in a dispute with the company over a licensing fee set under a patent agreement signed in 2006, arguing his current share of the patent income is significantly low. Ono Pharmaceutical is seeking to settle the dispute through negotiations and has offered to donate up to ¥30 billion ($277 million) to Kyoto University, where Honjo is a distinguished professor. It would be difficult for the company to comply with his demand, which involves a major change in the terms of the agreement, because such a revision would influence contracts with other researchers and the pharmaceutical industry as a whole, industry sources said.


Japanese Nobel laureate Tasuku Honjo to sue Ono Pharmaceutical over cancer drug patent royalties

The Japan Times

KYOTO - Nobel laureate Tasuku Honjo plans to bring his patent royalty dispute with Ono Pharmaceutical Co. to court as early as September, seeking an additional payment of ¥15 billion, according to informed sources. In the planned lawsuit with the Osaka District Court, Honjo will claim that he is entitled to 10 percent, or about ¥15.4 billion, of the amount Ono Pharmaceutical and U.S. drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. received from U.S. drug giant Merck & Co. when they settled a patent infringement lawsuit. Ono Pharmaceutical set aside some ¥400 million at a regional legal affairs bureau from January 2017 to March 2018 to make payments to Honjo. Honjo, a professor at Kyoto University, won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with a U.S. scientist for their immunology research that led to the development of the cancer drug Opdivo, which is at the center of the royalty dispute. In October 2006, Honjo and Ono Pharmaceutical entered into a contract that limited his compensation to 1 percent or less of the drug's sales.


Nobel laureate Tasuku Honjo calls for a better environment in Japan for life science research

The Japan Times

Nobel laureate and immunologist Tasuku Honjo on Tuesday called for a better environment in Japan for conducting research in the life sciences, saying more efforts are needed by both the private and public sectors in enabling researchers to come up with medical cures for illnesses such as cancer. The Kyoto University professor, who was awarded this year's Nobel Prize in medicine for his studies on cancer therapy that focus on controlling the immune system, told a meeting of ruling lawmakers at the Liberal Democratic Party headquarters in Tokyo about difficulties in the process that led to the development of the immunotherapeutic drug Opdivo. He spoke of his partnership with a Japanese pharmaceutical firm that didn't always work, his cooperation with a U.S. company that led to clinical trials for the drug and his recollection that the favorable results of the tests that came out in 2012 were not covered by the Japanese media. "Researchers around the world were surprised by the results because at the time people didn't think immunotherapy was effective in treating cancer," Honjo said. "Most of the patients who took part in the clinical trials were terminal cancer patients and the drug was effective for 20 to 30 percent of those patients. In addition, the effect continued even after administering of the medicine was stopped after half a year," he said.


Ono Pharmaceutical posts record net profit in first half of fiscal 2018 due to cancer drug Opdivo

The Japan Times

OSAKA – Ono Pharmaceutical Co. has reported a record net profit for the six months from April to September thanks to strong sales of its blockbuster cancer drug Opdivo. Net profit for the first half of fiscal 2018 grew 36 percent from a year earlier to ¥28.845 billion, according to the company's earnings report released Thursday. The company also revised up its sales and net profit forecasts for the fiscal year. Opdivo sales grew 11.9 percent to ¥45.4 billion. Increased royalty revenue from foreign companies also contributed to the higher earnings.


Nobel laureate Tasuku Honjo hopes Japan invests more in science

The Japan Times

KYOTO – Nobel Prize-winning scientist Tasuku Honjo voiced hope on Tuesday that Japan would invest more in science, a day after he was chosen for this year's award in physiology or medicine along with American James Allison for their studies on cancer therapy. "I was able to prove that it is not rare for fundamental research to lead to applications," Honjo, 76, said at a news conference held at Kyoto University, where he is currently a professor. "Science is an investment for the future." News that Honjo became the 26th Japanese Nobel Prize winner was met with a shower of praise from cancer patient groups and the Japanese government on Monday. "Cancer patients are being saved by (the new cancer medicine) Opdivo, which originated from a study carried out by the Japanese researcher.