Company news from the 05/16/06 News Brief

UK-based SkyePharma has entered into an agreement to make Kos Pharmaceuticals its US marketing partner for the late-stage potential blockbuster Flutiform for the treatment of asthma. Under the terms of the deal, Kos will have exclusive rights to market Flutiform in the US and a right of first negotiation in Canada. SkyePharma could receive up to $165 million in milestone payments on achievement of all regulatory and revenue targets, along with royalties on sales by Kos. Flutiform is currently in Phase III development for the treatment of asthma in adults and adolescents and is expected to be submitted for approval by the FDA in the second half of 2007 and reach the market by 2009. Pfizer announced an agreement to invest $25 million in South San Francisco, CA, AIDS/HIV testing technology developer Monogram Biosciences. Pfizer also entered into a nonexclusive collaboration agreement with Monogram to make the latter’s co-receptor tropism assay available for patient use on a global basis. The assay testing technology has been used in HIV/AIDS clinical trials for Pfizer’s investigational CCR5 inhibitor drug candidate known as maraviroc. Merck has entered deals to acquire two biotechnology firms. Merck agreed to acquire GlycoFi, a New Hampshire–based biotech firm, for about $400 million. GlycoFi is involved in the field of yeast glycoengineering and optimization of biologic drug molecules. GlycoFi was founded in 2000 and has about 55 employees. The companies have partnered since late 2005. Merck said it expects the deal to close during the second quarter of 2006. Merck also has agreed to pay $80 million for Abmaxis of Santa Clara, CA. Also founded in 2000, Abmaxis is a developer of monoclonal antibody products for therapeutics and diagnostics. Merck established a collaboration agreement with Abmaxis in late 2004. AstraZeneca has agreed to purchase UK biotechnology company Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT) in a deal valued at $1.3 billion. The deal will allow AstraZeneca to gain experimental asthma, cancer and muscular dystrophy treatments. CAT codeveloped Abbott’s rheumatoid arthritis blockbuster Humira. The biotech firm won a longstanding dispute with Abbott last year over Humira royalties and now receives a 2.69% share of the drug’s sales, which are predicted to reach $1.9 billion this year. In addition to Humira royalties, the deal gives AstraZeneca access to the biotech company’s pipeline, which includes CAT-3888, in Phase II development for cancer, and CAT-354, an asthma drug in Phase I trials.