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Nobel laureate Honjo sues Ono Pharmaceutical over royalties from Opdivo

The Japan Times

Osaka – Nobel Prize winner Tasuku Honjo filed a damages lawsuit against Ono Pharmaceutical Co. with Osaka District Court on Friday over royalties for the immunotherapy drug Opdivo. Honjo, special professor at Kyoto University, is demanding about ¥22.6 billion in damages, claiming the drugmaker neglected its obligations to him by slashing his share of royalty income from the cancer-fighting drug. Honjo chose to take the matter to court after rejecting the drugmaker's offer in 2018 to donate up to ¥30 billion to Kyoto University. Ono Pharmaceutical obtained a patent based on Honjo's research for Opdivo. In January 2017, Ono Pharmaceutical settled a similar lawsuit against a U.S. company that resulted in a deal that calls on the U.S. firm to pay Ono Pharmaceutical about ¥70 billion plus future royalties until 2026.


Ono Pharmaceutical to make Nobel laureate Tasuku Honjo new offer in bid to settle fee spat over Opdivo

The Japan Times

OSAKA - Ono Pharmaceutical Co., which sells a cancer treatment based on the discoveries of Nobel laureate in medicine Tasuku Honjo, has decided to offer him a new proposal in an attempt to settle their dispute over the licensing fee for Opdivo, a company source said Saturday. Ono Pharmaceutical, which started selling Opdivo in 2014, will revise its earlier plan to donate up to ¥30 billion ($276 million) to Kyoto University, where Honjo is a distinguished professor, the source said, adding, "It won't be good for both sides if the conflict is prolonged. We need to have discussions." Honjo said last month that he would decide as early as July on whether to sue the Japanese pharmaceutical company to demand it raise the licensing fee for the drug, which is usually used to treat skin and lung cancer. The 2018 Nobel laureate has been dissatisfied with the fee under an agreement signed in 2006, arguing his current share of patent income is considerably low and the explanation provided by the company at the time was insufficient.


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.


Nobel Prize winner Tasuku Honjo calls for better-funded and more imaginative pharma industry in Japan

The Japan Times

KYOTO – On the evening of Oct. 1, Dr. Tasuku Honjo was in his office at Kyoto University discussing a manuscript with two of his colleagues when a secretary came dashing in to announce there was a call from Sweden. Shortly afterward, details of that call would make news around the world: Honjo, 76, along with Dr. James Allison, 70, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, were jointly awarded the 2018 Nobel for Physiology or Medicine for their pioneering work in immunology -- work that has helped pave the way for a new generation of cancer treatment and drugs. In a recent interview in the same office where he took the Nobel Assembly's call, Honjo admitted his surprise -- it's not every day one is informed of a Nobel Prize win -- but he was also skeptical, for the same reasons. "The person who called me raised the issue (of prank calling), and so he asked me if I would like email confirmation during the call," Honjo said. "I said, 'Of course, yes.'"


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.