Company news from the 12/19/06 news brief

Eli Lilly said it would increase its bid to buy Cialis marketing partner Icos to $2.3 billion, or $34 a share. That’s up from $32 per share the drug firm offered in October. Icos shareholders are due to meet to consider the deal on Dec. 26. The $200 million increase may quell some shareholders who have complained Lilly’s initial offer was too low. In upping the bid, Lilly chairman and CEO Sidney Taurel called it “our final offer.” Cialis’ patent expires in 2017. Adolor announced plans to shed its sales force of approximately 35 people and make other selected reductions to its work force. The company established its sales force in early 2005 in anticipation of a product launch for Entereg (alvimopan) for the management of postoperative ileus later that year. The FDA approvable letter and subsequent delay to possible market entry for the company's lead product Entereg was the impetus for the decision, the company said. The sales force has been detailing GlaxoSmithKline's anti-thrombotic agent, Arixtra under its co-promotion agreement, which expires on Dec. 31. The company's headcount after the reduction will be 128, down from 180. Forest Laboratories has entered a deal to acquire the biotech firm Cerexa for $480 million plus a potential $100 million milestone payment. Pursuant to the acquisition, Forest will obtain development and marketing rights worldwide excluding Japan to Ceftaroline, a novel antibiotic that will enter Phase III clinical trials in early 2007, and ME1036, an antibiotic in preclinical development. In addition, Forest will obtain an option to a third early-stage antibiotic. The cash-for-stock transaction is expected to close during Forest's fiscal fourth quarter. Novartis has named Cambridge, MA, as its new site for its vaccines and diagnostics division global headquarters. The site will have approximately 250 associates in positions such as research, development, marketing, human resources, IT, finance and general management and will be fully staffed by the second half of 2007, the company said. "This decision reflects the status of the US as an important growth market and one where we are making major investments,” said Jörg Reinhardt, CEO, Novartis’ vaccines and diagnostics division. “Centralizing our global operations in Cambridge will also allow us to capitalize on the city’s vibrant biotechnology environment, the excellent talent pool as well as foster greater collaboration within Novartis.” InChord Communications, a division of inVentiv Health announced that, effective Jan.1, 2007, it will conduct business under the name inVentiv Communications. This transition marks the final step in the previously announced corporate rebranding of inVentiv Health. Biotech firm Geunmab has signed a deal potentially worth up to $2.11 billion with GlaxoSmithKline for the global commercialization of its most promising drug, a leukemia treatment known as the HuMax-CD20 antibody. The agreement includes an initial license fee, the purchase of shares in Genmat by Glaxo and milestone payments totaling over $1.5 billion.