PHARMACY

Celgene to acquire Pharmion for $72/share

BY Drew Buono

SUMMIT, N.J. Celgene and Pharmion have announced a merger agreement, under which Celgene has agreed to acquire Pharmion. Celgene will acquire all of Pharmion’s outstanding shares of common stock for $72 per share payable in cash and share of Celgene common stock.

Under the agreement, Celgene will acquire the rights to three popular Pharmion oncology drugs: Revlimid, Thalomid, and Vidaza. Thalmoid and Revlimid are used to treat patients with multiple myeloma. Vidaza is used to treat myelodysplastic syndromes.

“The acquisition of Pharmion is an exceptional strategic fit that will expand our role as a leader in hematology and oncology,” said Sol Barer, chairman and chief executive officer of Celgene Corporation. “Our combined global infrastructure will leverage the therapeutic and commercial potential of Pharmion’s products, particularly Vidaza, which has the potential to become a major global therapy. By bringing together the talents and resources of both companies, we move closer to our vision of becoming a leading hematology and oncology company in the world, expanding our industry leading programs for safety, access and patient support.”

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PHARMACY

Millenium takes a long-term view on expansion

BY Allison Cerra

BOSTON Biotechnology company Millennium Pharmaceuticals said that it has taken a less intense approach to bidding for experimental drugs, Reuters reported.

Millennium, which makes cancer drug Velcade, said Thursday that although its shareholders keep it on a longer leash, it will not destroy its focus on the value of the company, rather than trying to expand when it is impossible or unnecessary. “One of our strategies is to look outside to accelerate growth,” said Deborah Dunsire, Millennium’s chief executive, at the Reuters Health Summit in New York. “But our larger shareholders want us to stay religiously focused on being able to return value after we’ve paid for the assets.”

Last year’s bidding war with fellow biotechnology company Genzyme Corp. caused Millennium to intently concentrate on other things, including its pipeline of experimental products and its partnerships.

Meanwhile, Dunsire said the company has talked to several potential partners about MLN1202, its experimental antibody designed to reduce a protein that evidence suggests is related to coronary artery disease. While there no solid proof that elevated C-reactive protein directly contributes to an increased risk of heart disease, Dunsire said, the Food and Drug Administration would not approve the drug just because it reduces the protein.

Other companies involved in developing drugs for cardiovascular disease, however, could find it a very valuable tool and potentially a product in its own right. “We have taken this forward to determine whether it is an interesting avenue to explore,” Dunsire told Reuters.

For now, the company is expanding sales of Velcade, which is being tested in multiple combinations to determine its function when pooled with other drugs, Dunsire said. “We’re very optimistic we’ll get good growth in 2008. We’ve never looked at this as a zero-sum game.”

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PHARMACY

J&J combats slow sales with creation of three units

BY Drew Buono

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. Johnson & Johnson will create three new units to combat its recent lagging sales, according to the Associated Press.

The three new units are: an office of strategy and growth to identify new opportunities; a surgical care group to focus on technology and services to improve patient care; and a comprehensive care group which will treat chronic and pervasive conditions. The office of strategy and growth is one of they key areas, as the company reported a decline in profit recently.

Nicholas Valeriani, the worldwide chairman for medical devices and diagnostics will lead the strategy and growth office. Sherilyn McCoy, the chairwoman for Ethicon, a medical device company, will be the worldwide chairwoman of surgical care and will become a member of the executive committee. Donald Casey, group chairman for the diabetes franchise, will become worldwide chairman of the comprehensive care unit and will join the executive committee.

“We have the know-how across our pharmaceutical, biologics, devices, diagnostics and consumer businesses to bring completely new solutions to market,” chief executive William Weldon said in a statement.

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