Company news from the 01/09/07 news brief

Boehringer Ingelheim and Ablynx have jointly announced an exclusive worldwide collaboration and license agreement worth approximately $265 million to discover and develop new therapies for Alzheimer’s disease using Ablynx’ Nanobodies, a novel class of therapeutic proteins. In addition Boehringer Ingelheim will commence a joint research program including Ablynx scientists. Boehringer Ingelheim will be solely responsible for development, manufacturing and commercialization of any products resulting from the collaboration. The deal includes an upfront fee, development and commercial milestones. Ablynx will also receive undisclosed royalties based on net sales. Alkermes and Eli Lilly announced they have signed a commercial manufacturing agreement for AIR Inhaled Insulin As a result of the agreement, Alkermes will be the exclusive commercial manufacturer of AIR Insulin powder for the AIR Inhaled Insulin System. The manufacturing agreement provides for an additional investment by Lilly for the construction and operation of a second manufacturing line at Alkermes’ commercial-scale production facility for inhaled medications, expanding the facility's powder production capacity to meet post-launch requirements. The AIR Insulin System is currently in Phase III clinical development by Lilly and Alkermes and is being studied as an innovative treatment for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. German chemicals company Merck KGaA is selling its generics unit, which could fetch 4 billion euros ($5.2 billion). Merck has hired Bear Stearns to vet potential bidders. The business had sales of 1.8 billion euros ($2.3 billion) in 2005. Merck is buying Swiss biotech Serono for $13.3 billion, after failing to buy the rival Schering last year, and is under pressure to cut debt. Among the potential buyers are India’s Ranbaxy Laboratories, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson, as are private equity firms including Blackstone and KKR. Iceland’s Actavis and KKR and Blackstone lost a bidding battle against Barr Pharmaceuticals, which bought Croatian drugmaker Pliva for $2.5 billion last year. Also last year, Novartis bought generics company Hexal for $8 billion. Abbott Laboratories won an appeals court ruling stopping Andrx Pharmaceuticals from selling generic versions of its antibiotic Biaxin XL until a patent suit is resolved. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said a trial judge was correct in finding that Abbott was likely to win a patent-infringement suit against Andrx. The trial judge ordered Andrx not to sell copies of the drug while the lawsuit was pending. Abbott spokesman Jonathon Hamilton told Bloomberg News the company was pleased with the ruling and it “validates the strength of our intellectual property for Biaxin XL.” Biaxin generated $580 million in global sales in the first nine months of 2006.