PHARMACY

Genentech resolves Avastin dispute with opthamologists

BY Drew Buono

SAN FRANCISCO Genentech has resolved a dispute with ophthalmologists over the use of its cancer drug Avastin, according to published reports. The issue had been over the decision by the doctors to prescribe the drug rather than one of the company’s other medications, Lucentis, which costs about 40 to 50 times more than Avastin.

The problem with the drugs stems from the fact that Lucentis is federally approved to treat macular degeneration, which occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow and Avastin, which is chemically similar to Lucentis, is not approved for that treatment.

In October, Genentech said it would stop supplying the drug to compounding pharmacies, causing an uproar from doctors who had been prescribing it, and initiating a threat of Congressional investigation on the issue. The deal now in place with the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Retinal Specialists states that doctors can buy Avastin from wholesale pharmacies, and then have it shipped to compounding pharmacies, hospital formulary departments or medical offices.

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BioSante makes milestone payment of $875,000 to Antrares for Elestrin

BY Drew Buono

EWING, N.J. Antares Pharma has received an additional payment of $875,000 from BioSante Pharmaceuticals in relation to a marketing agreement with Bradley Pharmaceuticals for the drug Elestrin.

Elestrin is a low dose transdermal estradiol therapy that is used for the treatment of hot flashes in menopausal women. Antares allowed BioSante to use its advanced transdermal delivery gel system for the drug. Additional sales based milestone payments could bring the deals total value to more than $13 million, not including royalties based on third party sales.

“We look forward to continued marketing progress with Elestrin in 2008. The December 2006 FDA approval of this product has validated our ATD gel system and that has been a significant milestone for Antares and our potential pipeline products including Anturol—our proprietary ATD gel based overactive bladder product—currently in pivotal trials,” said Jack Stover, president and chief executive officer of Antares Pharma.

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GSK, Santaris ink deal worth a potential $700 million

BY Drew Buono

LONDON GlaxoSmithKline has signed a deal with the biotech company Santaris Pharma to develop new antiviral medicine, in a deal that could be worth more than $700 million, according to Reuters. The deal involves drug candidates discovered and developed under the agreement in up to four different viral disease programs.

As part of the deal, Santaris will receive an upfront payment of $3 million for the first antiviral program and an equity investment of $5 million. The deal could be worth more than $700 million based on upfront payments and development and regulatory milestone payments, depending on the success on early-stage research in RNA antagonist compounds.

Santaris will also get high single- to double-digit percentage royalties on worldwide sales of marketed products. GSK will have the option to develop drug candidates in up to four different viral disease programs. It also has an option to include as an additional program Santaris’ pre-clinical hepatitis C compound SPC3649.

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