Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Out of the Blue, Roche Grabs Marcadia

If at first you don't succeed, buy buy again. That could be Roche's diabetes motto these days.

The Swiss drug and diagnostic giant told our Pink Sheet colleagues Wednesday, Dec. 29 it has agreed to buy Marcadia Biotech, a private Indiana outfit that has already struck a couple Big Pharma partnerships, most recently licensing a preclinical glucagon analog to neighbor Eli Lilly & Co. for use in an injector pen.

Marcadia's lead program MAR701, a GLP-1/GIP dual agonist, is in Phase I, so it has a long way to go to replace what was Roche's most advanced experimental diabetes asset, the Phase III taspoglutide. Roche pulled the plug on trials of the drug earlier this year. At a conference in October, Roche's top clinical executive for metabolism Anders Svensson said insurers have set a much higher bar for Type-2 diabetes drugs, and that developers must do more than just demonstrate glycemic control: "For now diabetes is not nearly as attractive as it was a couple of years ago."

No financial details were forthcoming about the Marcadia buyout. We'll have to wait until Roche's next quarterly earnings call, a spokesman said. But "The Pink Sheet" Daily has more on the story, including reaction from Kelly Close, an industry consultant who first reported the merger in her newsletter. -- Lisa LaMotta

Photo courtesy of flickrer Rutger de Moddertukker.

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