The long holiday weekend is upon us--a time for picnics, parades, and pyrotechnics. But before the industry's diehards decamped to beaches and backyards for obligatory BBQs and beer, a few companies made some fireworks of their own.
Abbott Labs, for instance, announced another $20 million investment in Ibis Biosciences, upping its stake in the company to 18.6%, Ibis parent firm Isis Pharmaceuticals said earlier in the week. Readers may recall that Abbott first inked a deal with Ibis back in January, presumably to beef up its diagnostics unit's ability to sell highly automated systems. Presumably Abbott isn't completely sold on the biotech's complicated technology--it has not, after all, yet purchased the company outright. (For more on Ibis and other players in the hospital infectious disease space, check out this June START-UP feature.)
Newsflash! It's a new day at Celera Diagnostics (seriously!). On July 1, the molecular diagnostics player officially cut ties with Applera Corp. and "emerged as an independent company with highly energized employees and its own Board of Directors, all focused on building a strong future." Not too surprising given Invitrogen's recent take-out of Applied Biosystems, Celera's sister company under the Applera moniker.
Not to be outdone, the FDA's Endocrine & Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee also launched some rockets, but they aren't captivating the industry. On July 2, regulatory advisors voted 14-2 that all new diabetes drugs should undergo longer studies to ensure they don't increase risks of heart problems. benefit. According to panel member and physician Jessica W. Henderson "Showing cardiovascular benefit would be nice to know. But ruling out cardiovascular risk is a need-to-know." The news has already proved troublesome for both Amylin and Novo Nordisk. The share prices of both companies unsurprisingly dropped on the news.
And now a few sparklers to get your weekend started off right...
Icatibant is an unlikely deal driver at least in the sense that Jerini had already sold off rights to the product in the US, in a November 2005 pact with Kos Pharmaceuticals. And when Abbott bought Kos in late 2006, a subsequent portfolio review determined icatibant wasn’t a good fit; the candidate was returned to Jerini in September 2007. Adding injury to insult, earlier this year FDA slapped the drug candidate with a Not Approvable Letter, prompting the company’s sale exploration. Meanwhile the well-documented Genzymification of Shire continues, and clearly the specialty pharma feels it can help reverse the fortunes of icatibant in the US.
P&G/ARYx: Burying bad news just before the holiday weekend, ARYx revealed late Wednesday afternoon that its pact with P&G had come to an abrupt end. P&G utilized a one-time thirty day cancellation option to end the collaboration, which covered the late stage development and commercialization of that biotech's ATI-7505, currently in Phase II trials for chronic constipation and functional dyspepsia. Under the terms of the intial 2006 tie-up, ARYx received an up-front of $25 millon and development, regulatory, and commercialization milestones of up to $391 million. But one of the stipulations of the deal was that the ARYx had to complete a Thorough QT (TQT) study showing that ATI-7505 didn't cause the same heart rhythm irregularities that forced Janssen Pharmaceutica to pull its blockbuster 5HT4 agonist, Propulsid, back in 2000. ARYx's publication of it TQT results, which also came yesterday, would have triggered a Tier 1, or highest, milestone payment from P&G based on the original deal terms. Despite the fact that ARYx's TQT study met its primary endpoints, P&G decided to exercise its get-out clause and returned all rights to the drug to the biotech. Dr. Paul Goddard, ARYx's CEO, remained stoic in face of adversity, promising investors that the drug will move forward into late-stage development once it's in the hands of a new partner. "This decision by P&G does not in any way diminish our confidence in ATI-7505," he said in a press release.
(DOTW is a team effort. This week's write-up includes contributions from Chris Morrison and Roger Longman.)
(Picture courtesy of Flickr user Barry Yanowitz through a creative commons license.)