PHARMACY

Novo Nordisk inks deal with ZymoGenetics

BY Alaric DeArment

BAGSVAERD, Denmark Novo Nordisk has signed a deal with a U.S. biotech company to license a drug for treating autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, the Danish drug maker has announced.

Novo Nordisk will pay $24 million upfront to Seattle-based ZymoGenetics to license a monoclonal antibody that inhibits the protein interleukin-21, or IL-21, which research has indicated can cause inflammatory diseases when over-expressed in the body. Novo Nordisk hopes to develop the drug as a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and may pay ZymoGenetics up to $157.5 million in milestone payments. The acquisition is part of Novo Nordisk’s efforts to develop treatments for autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.

“It was important for us to secure the worldwide rights to the IL-21 mAb project as well as worldwide patent rights to IL-21 antibodies, and we look forward to initiating a phase 1 trial with this IL-21 mAb in 2010,” Novo Nordisk EVP and chief science officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen said.

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Biogen Idec, Genentech release study results for rheumatoid arthritis treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. An investigational treatment for rheumatoid arthritis was successful in improving the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, according to results of a late-stage clinical trial released Friday.

Biogen Idec and Roche subsidiary Genentech announced results of a phase 3 study of ocrelizumab combined with methotrexate in patients who had not responded adequately to methotrexate alone.

“Patients living with a debilitating disease like rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from additional treatment options,” Biogen Idec VP and chief medical officer for rheumatology David Hagerty said. “We look forward to seeing the results of our ongoing phase 3 rheumatoid arthritis trials with ocrelizumab.”

The two companies expect to have results of three other trials of the drug in the first half of 2010.

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Sandoz launches topical psoriasis treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

PRINCETON, N.J. Sandoz has launched its version of a topical drug used to treat psoriasis of the scalp, the Swiss generic drug maker announced Thursday.

The company launched calcipotriene solution in the 0.005% strength, a synthetic vitamin D3 derivative and generic version of Leo Pharma’s Dovonex Scalp Solution. The drug is used to treat moderately severe chronic psoriasis of the scalp.

Branded and generic versions of Dovonex had sales of $12.2 million during the 12-month period ended in September, according to IMS Health.

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