Novocure's Optune Launches in China With Zai Lab

Novocure might start to receive royalties from Optune sales in China soon.

Author: CapitalWatch Staff   

Zai Lab Ltd. (Nasdaq: ZLAB) is going to market in China with Optune, the wearable electric-field treatment device licensed by American oncology company Novocure (Nasdaq: NVCR).

The device, which uses electric fields tuned to specific frequencies to disrupt cell division, was approved for the treatment of glioblastoma (GBM), a form of primary brain cancer, in combination with temozolomide (TMZ). According to a company statement, Optune is the first novel treatment of GBM that China regulators have approved in over 15 years.

The Shanghai-based ZLAB announced the news on Wednesday, and today, China's National Medical Products Administration followed with an official confirmation, according to Yicai Global.

"Approval of Optune for GBM in Greater China extends the promise of Tumor Treating Fields therapy to patients in the world's largest market," William Doyle, Novocure's executive chairman, said in a statement.

Zai Lab said more than 15,000 patients have been treated with Optune globally. Clinical results have shown that adding Optune treatment to TMZ had more than doubled the five-year survival rate.

In China, more 45,000 people are diagnosed with GBM each year, Zai Lab said.

Novocure markets Optune in the United States, Europe, Japan, and certain other countries. In September 2018, it granted Zai Lab an exclusive license to commercialize its electric field technology in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Zai Lab had launched Optune in Hong Kong in December 2018.

According to a Sept. 2018 statement, Novocure is eligible to receive a royalty on net sales of the licensed products in Greater China ranging from 10% to 15%.

Shares in Novocure were trading up 2% Thursday afternoon, at $61.88 apiece. ZLAB stock jumped over $70 per share earlier this week but today was trading at $65.59 per American depositary share, down 7%.