The debate over Vytorin's medical benefits and, by extension, the utility of all cholesterol meds, continues to rage. Meantime, the Zyprexa marketing scandal reared its head: new this week, the NY Times reports Lilly is in talks with federal prosecutors to settle investigations into its marketing of the antipsychotic. If an agreement is reached, it could cost the pharma $1 billion, the largest fine ever paid by a drugmaker for breaking federal laws governing a medicine's promotion.
BiogenIdec/Genmab: Perhaps we should say "No deal, yet." This week BiogenIdec was once again in the news thanks to manueuvers by Carl Icahn to install three supporters onto the company's board. Also swirling in the ether, rumors that BiogenIdec intends to buy Genmab. Certainly, such a deal would scupper any attempts by Icahn to sell the company to another entity. Adding Genmab's pipeline would go a long way to securing an independent future for the Cambridge, MA-based biotech. But such a deal won't come cheap. In part, because it seems likely that GSK might up the ante. The British pharma, after all, has three partnerships with Genmab, including a very rich co-development, co-promotion deal for the biotech's HuMax-CD20, an antibody to treat cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. Until now, GSK's had no real reason to bring Genmab in-house--it's already got rights to the antibody cow's milk, after all. But it may not be willing to stomach the risk associated with a change in Genmab ownership, deciding its worth the hefty price tag to nail down its rights to its partnered products.
Lilly/Gastrotech: Deal or No Deal? Here's an odd one for you. On Jan 28, Denmark’s Gastrotech Pharma announced it was in-licensing Lilly’s GLP-1 analog GTP 010 for IBS and functional dyspepsia. That’s a deal, not a non-deal, surely? Well, depends on how you look at it. Simply turn it over and you get….a non-opt-in by Lilly.
Lilly and Gastrotech had been collaborating on GTP 010 since 2004, when Gastrotech took over Phase II trials of this Lilly compound in IBS and dyspepsia (in part thanks to the biotech’s ownership of some use patents for GLP-1 analogs in IBS, according to chairman Hans Schambye, though no, that wasn’t mentioned in the release).
That—four years ago--was arguably the real licensing deal. And that was also when Lilly received an option to later take over development and commercialization of the compound in return for milestones and royalties.
This week's news is that Lilly didn’t take that option, which means Gastrotech gets to keep the compound, instead, paying Lilly royalties. “Sure,” Schambye acknowledged to IN VIVO Blog, “you could look at it both ways. Either party could have licensed the drug.”
See? Hmm, exactly. Now ok, we know that small biotechs need all the positive spin they can get, but we're getting pretty close to "Press Release of the Week" territory here. Perhaps Gastrotech will do something big with 010, who knows (Lilly did take an equity stake). But please, a bit of clarity and objectivity wouldn’t go amiss.