Friday, January 04, 2008

Deals of the Week: New Year's Resolutions

It's day four of the New Year and you've already broken that resolution to exercise, eat better, or spend more time with the family. Hey, it's okay. Those are tough ones to keep.

So how about an easy one: tune in every Friday for a run-down of the week's most interesting biopharma deals. It's a quick, easy way to stay on top of the industry's events, leaving more time for the kiddos or the gym, or your blackberry.

Once again, we bring you:

(Aren't you glad we aren't on strike?)

Admittedly, deal-making activity has been lighter than usual this past week. We surmise that's because execs are shining their shoes, amassing their business cards, and honing their laser pointer skills in preparation for the biotech's annual coming out party, aka the JPM conference. (The burning questions: 1. Can a company's success be correlated to its executives' neckwear preferences? 2. What color will the famous tote bag be this year?)

Sepracor/Bial: Specialty pharma Sepracor inked a much-needed licensing deal with Bial on Wednesday for the Portunguese drug maker's Phase III anti-epileptic compound BIA 2-093. (Naturally enough for Sepracor, the drug is an enantiomer, (S)-licarbazepine, a metabolite of an analogue of the off-patent anti-convulsant carbamazepine.) Last year the company lost the bidding war for Kos Pharmaceuticals to Abbott Labs and analysts began raising questions about the company's pipeline beyond its insomnia drug Lunesta. (For more, read here.) Under the terms of the agreement, Sepracor will pay Bial a $75 million up-front fee, plus an additional $100 million in development and regulatory milestones for rights to the compound in the US and Canada. In addition, Sepracor will also file the compound's new drug application with the FDA, which should occur late this year or early in 2009. "Strategically, BIA 2-093 further strengthens our existing central nervous system portfolio, which includes Lunesta for the treatment of insomnia, as well as earlier-stage candidates for various central nervous system disorders," said Adrian Adams, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sepracor in a company press release.

Merck/Addex: In terms of "biobucks", the Merck/ Addex agreement was the week's biggest splash. As we wrote yesterday, the two companies announced an exclusive licensing agreement centered around the Swiss biotech's ADX63365, an allosteric modulator currently in preclinical development for schizophrenia and other undisclosed indications. The deal terms are potentially rich: Addex could see up to $680 million in downstream development, regulatory, and sales milestones, but that would require an unlikely alignment of the R&D planets. Guaranteed money was not quite as generous, but the solid upfront of $22 million for a non-clinical compound does suggest Merck is taking the idea of allosteric modulation seriously, and is roughly an order of magnitude greater than the company's previous discovery deals ... so who knows what a deal around its lead Phase IIb candidate might look like (you'll have to wait til next year to find out). For more on Addex and allosteric modulators check out this profile of the company from the January 2006 START-UP.

Sanofi-Aventis/IDM Pharma: Bad news for IDM Pharma this week. On Monday, the company learned that its partner since 2002, Sanofi-Aventis, would no longer help develop its dendritic cancer vaccine, Uvidem, which is currently being tested as a melanoma treatment. No reason was given for the move, but cancer vaccines have had a tough go in recent months, especially after the FDA required one of the field's leading lights, Dendreon, to submit additional efficacy data for the approval of its immunotherapy Provenge. IDM noted in a release that it will continue to evaluate the Uvidem clinical program, which recently completed Phase II trials "with promising results." But already, restructuring plans are in the works, involving "staff reductions in the Company's workforce and a review of the assets and costs associated with products under development." The news comes just weeks after the biotech issued a press release with updated news about its pipeline and a promise to investigate "strategic alternatives."

Sanofi Pasteur/Crucell: On Thursday, Dutch antibody maker Crucell and Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi Aventis, announced they were teaming up to develop next-generation rabies biologicals to be used in association with a vaccine for post-exposure treatment against this fatal disease. Under the terms of the agreement, Sanofi will pay Crucell 10 million euros following the deal's execution; Crucell could receive an additional 66.5 million euros in milestones as well as an undisclosed percentage on sales of the final product if the rabies antibodies pan out. To date, Crucell has developed a combination of two rabies mABs that are well tolerated and provide immediate neutralizing activity in Phase I clinical trials. Crucell expects to enter Phase II clinical trials in the first half of this year. If approved, peak sales of the rabies antibody cocktail could exceed $300 million.


Anonymous said...

>>Last year the company {Sepracor]lost the bidding war for Kos Pharmaceuticals to Abbott Labs and analysts began raising questions about the company's pipeline beyond its insomnia drug Lunesta.

What? Sepracor + Kos? Really?

jetsgirl said...

No, not Sepracor. Schering Plough.