Company and People Notes: Abbott to Acquire Ibis Biosciences; Pfizer Appoints Senior VP of Litigation; More...

December 29, 2008
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors
ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Also, Crucell and DSM announce deals with GSK, Talecris, and CSL; Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier joins Viral Genetics; more...

Company notes

Abbott Park, IL (Dec. 17)-Abbott has exercised its option to acquire Ibis Biosciences, Inc., an Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Carlsbad, CA) subsidiary, for a closing purchase price of $175 million. Isis will also receive payments from Abbott tied to post-closing sales of Ibis systems, including instruments and assay kits. Earlier this year, Abbott invested $40 million in Ibis in exchange for approximately 18.6% of Ibis' outstanding equity. This results in a total acquisition price of $215 million, plus earn-out payments. The acquisition is subject to customary regulatory requirements and is expected to close in January 2009.

Cambridge, MA (Dec. 8)-Ascent Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company developing a new class of biologics targeting G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), announced that it has entered into a licensing option agreement through the Novartis Option Fund. Ascent will discover and develop Pepducin drug candidates against a specific GPCR target. The agreement includes an upfront fee and potential milestones totaling over $200 million as well as royalties.

Malvern, PA (Dec. 17)-Auxilium Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer (New York) entered into a strategic alliance for the development, commercialization, and supply of “XIAFLEX” (clostridial collagenase for injection), a novel, first-in-class, late-stage biologic for the treatment of Dupuytren's contracture and Peyronie's disease. Under the terms of the agreement, Auxilium will remain primarily responsible for the global development of XIAFLEX and will be responsible for all clinical and commercial drug manufacturing and supply. Auxilium has completed Phase III trials for XIAFLEX in Dupuytren's contracture and expects to file a US biologics license application for the treatment of Dupuytren's contracture with the US Food and Drug Administration in early 2009. Pfizer will receive exclusive rights to commercialize and will be primarily responsible for regulatory activities for XIAFLEX in the European Union and 19 other European and Eurasian countries. Pfizer expects to file XIAFLEX for approval for the treatment of Dupuytren's contracture in Europe in 2010.

Leiden, The Netherlands (Dec. 18)-The biopharmaceutical company Crucell and DSM Biologics (Parsippany, NJ), a business unit of DSM Pharmaceutical Products, announced agreements with three companies for the “PER.C6” technology platform used in the large-scale manufacture of biopharmaceutical products. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK, London) signed a license agreement allowing GSK to research a recombinant protein on the “PER.C6” platform. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Talecris Biotherapeutics (Research Triangle Park, NC) signed a license agreement for an undisclosed and specific protein and the exclusive rights to produce that protein using the “PER.C6” cell line. Crucell will receive an upfront payment of $1.5 million following the execution of the agreement and will be eligible for milestone payments of approximately $20 million. Further financial details of the agreement were not disclosed. CSL (Melbourne, Australia), a biopharmaceutical company, signed a license agreement to develop protein therapeutics for multiple undisclosed disease targets on the “PER.C6” platform. Under the terms of the agreement, CSL is responsible for the development of protein and antibody products resulting from this alliance. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Ghent, Belgium, (Dec. 16)-Devgen, a public agricultural biotech and seed company, will close its pharmaceutical division. The positions of 19 employees will be eliminated, effective Dec. 31, 2008.

Berkeley, CA (Dec. 17)-The biopharmaceutical company Dynavax Technologies signed a deal with GlaxoSmithKline (London) to discover, develop, and commercialize novel inhibitors of endosomal toll-like receptors (TLRs) for the treatment of immuno-inflammatory diseases. Under the terms of the alliance, Dynavax will receive an initial payment of $10 million, for which GSK will receive an exclusive option over four programs targeting diseases such as lupus, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Dynavax is to conduct research and early clinical development in up to four programs and is eligible to receive future potential development and commercialization milestones totaling approximately $200 million per program.

Collegeville, PA (Dec. 18)-Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a division of Wyeth, acquired Thiakis (London), a privately held biotechnology company based in the United Kingdom.  Thiakis’s lead product candidate, “TKS1225,” is being studied for the treatment of obesity and other comorbidities. TKS1225 and related compounds are synthetic versions of the natural gastrointestinal peptide oxyntomodulin. Under the terms of the transaction, Wyeth acquired Thiakis for approximately $30 million.  Thiakis is eligible for additional milestone payments of up to approximately $120 million.

People notes

Calgary, Alberta, Canada (Dec. 22)-The biotechnology company OncolyticsBiotech appointed Matt Coffey chief operating officer (COO). Coffey was formerly the company’s chief scientific officer.

Milan, Italy (Dec. 19)-Newron Pharmaceuticals, a research and development company focused on CNS and pain therapies, announced that Carlos de Sousa, the company’s chief business officer (CBO), has resigned and will leave the company by mid-February 2009. The board of directors has initiated a search for a new CBO.

Incline Village, NV (Dec. 18)-PDL BioPharma, a biotechnology company, appointed Christine Larson vice-president and chief financial officer. Larson has been working for PDL since early October on a consulting basis.

New York (Dec. 22)-Pfizer appointed Bradley E. Lerman senior vice-president of litigation. Lerman is a former partner at Winston & Strawn (Chicago) and previously served as lead counsel for McDonald's in the recent wave of obesity litigation, as well as representing Phillip Morris USA in smoking and healthcare litigation. Lerman will report to senior vice-president and general counsel Amy W. Schulman.

San Marino, CA (Dec. 18)-Luc Montagnier, co-winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Medicine and the co-discoverer of the HIV virus, joined the advisory board of Viral Genetics, a biotechnology company that discovers and develops immune-based therapies. Montagnier said, “While some preventive candidate vaccines failed to protect against HIV infection, and since there is no treatment able to cure the disease, it is important to come back to basic research and to explore new ways of research and treatment such as those explored by Viral Genetics.”

Seattle (Dec. 18)-ZymoGenetics, a biotechnology company, will form a Biosurgery Business Unit based on its product, “RECOTHROM Thrombin,” topical (recombinant). Stephen W. Zaruby will join ZymoGenetics as president, as well as general manager of the Biosurgery Business Unit, effective January 2, 2009.