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Good morning everyone! Matthew Herper is here, filling in for Pharmalot, who is taking a well-deserved break, which means that today there’s English Breakfast tea instead of flavored coffee and two cozy cats instead of the usual mascot. What doesn’t change is that we’ve got the usual roundup of pharma news for you to read. We hope your holiday preparations are going swimmingly and that your work is starting to wrap up.…

For big pharmaceutical firms this holiday season, it’s biobucks on parade. For those not familiar with the term, “biobucks,” they refer to future payments promised in licensing deals in the pharmaceutical industry. Merck has agreed to pay $175 million in cash to Kelun-Biotech, a division of the Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sichuan Kelun Pharmaceutical, for the rights to seven preclinical antibody-drug conjugates, a type of cancer drug that has seen some big successes recently. If all the medicines were to prove successful, payments to Kelun-Biotech could total $9.5 billion. Of course, that’s unlikely. Meanwhile, Eli Lilly is paying $75 million to ProQR, a Dutch firm focused on mRNA, with another $3.8 billion in potential future payments.

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