PHARMACY

Alba, Shire agree on $325 million partnership to develop gastrointestinal treatments

BY Drew Buono

BALTIMORE, Md. Alba Therapeutics and Shire have reached a licensing agreement to develop and market an investigational treatment for various gastrointestinal disorders that is worth more than $325 million, according to published reports.

The treatment is Alba’s lead compound, AT-1001, which is currently in midstage studies for Celiac disease, a gastrointestinal autoimmune disease. Under the terms of the gastrointestinal disorders deal, Alba will receive an initial, nonrefundable licensing fee of $25 million. The company is eligible to over $80 million if certain clinical, regulatory, and launch milestones are met for particular gastrointestinal indications. Shire will tender up to $220 million in sales-based milestones as well as tiered royalties. If the partnership extends beyond gastrointestinal disorders, Shire will make milestone payments totaling over $40 million per additional indication.

Development costs toward global approval of AT-1001 will be shared between the two companies, after the completion of the current midstage studies for Celiac disease.

Shire will receive rights to bring to market all forms of AT-1001 outside of the U.S. and Japan, while Alba will retain the rights to market AT-1001 in the U.S. and Japan.

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Pharmacy-friendly TRICARE bill moves forward with passage of equal access provisions in Senate

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Two days after its passage in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate has voted to approve language in the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act that pharmacy leaders consider critical to their ability to participate in the government’s massive TRICARE military health program.

The bill contains two key provisions that address the TRICARE prescription drug benefit for military beneficiaries. Among them: an extension of the current freeze on increases to retail pharmacy co-payments, so that patients covered by the military health plan won’t be penalized for filling their prescriptions at a community pharmacy rather than through a mail-order facility. The bill also affirms the right of the Department of Defense to negotiate with drug manufacturers for federal pricing discounts that would apply to prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies, as well as those that currently apply to drugs filled at military bases or by mail order facilities.

Citing the “extensive grassroots and lobbying campaign” his organization conducted to ensure those elements were included in the defense spending bill, NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven Anderson called the Senate’s approval of the provisions “a victory for community pharmacy and the military patients we serve.

“NACDS applauds the House and Senate for their action to preserve access to retail pharmacies in the TRICARE program,” he said. “Our nation’s soldiers, military retirees, and their families should have the freedom to choose where they obtain prescription medications, and this legislation will help protect that freedom.

“We urge President Bush to sign this legislation promptly so that it can be enacted into law,” Anderson added.

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Student designs new insulin delivery in a wristwatch

BY Drew Buono

PARIS A German student has designed a new mobile device to help pump insulin in a diabetic’s body without the hassle of using syringes or bulky machines, according to the European Space Agency.

The design is for a wristwatch that contains an ultra-light insulin pump to help people with type 1 diabetes. The watch produces its own electricity using aerospace technology, by conducting electricity caused by the movement of the person wearing the watch.

The product is being called COR and it can contain enough insulin to be sufficient for a type 1 diabetic for two-to-three weeks. The pump is attached to the user via a thin tube and a needle inserted under the skin to allow the insulin to flow into the body continuously, substituting for conventional syringe injections.

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