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Bristol-Myers, Eisai in up to $3.1 billion deal to develop cancer drug candidate

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(Reuters) -Bristol-Myers Squibb Co and Eisai Co said on Thursday they had entered into an agreement worth up to $3.10 billion to jointly develop and market an experimental cancer drug.

Bristol-Myers would pay $650 million, including for research and development expenses to Eisai, which will also be eligible for up to $2.45 billion in milestone payments, the companies said.

They would jointly develop and market the drug, MORAb-202, in Asia, Europe, the United States and Canada.

Bristol-Myers in May entered into a $1.56 billion deal with Agenus Inc to exclusively develop and market its experimental drug for immuno-oncology treatments, including non-small-cell lung cancer.

The drugmaker has been betting on sales of its Opdivo drug to treat such cancers, in a market currently dominated by Merck & Co's rival treatment, Keytruda.

Eisai's drug, MORAb-202, is being developed for the treatment of solid tumors, including ovarian, lung and breast cancers and is in the early stage of development.

Bristol-Myers will pay Eisai a royalty on sales outside of the collaboration territories, the companies said.

(Reporting by Amruta Khandekar;Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

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