AMGEN SIGNS WITH SWEDISH DRUG COMPANY.
THOUSAND OAKS - Amgen Inc. announced Monday it would pay a Swedish company $86.5 million upfront for exclusive rights to develop and commercialize products that treat diseases including diabetes.
The biotechnology giant inked a deal with Biovitrum, a privately held company that develops drugs to treat Type II diabetes and obesity. Representatives for Amgen said the company would continue to pay Biovitrum for reaching certain milestones during its research.
``This deal definitely represents a significant commitment for us,'' said Sabrina Johnson, a spokeswoman for Thousand Oaks-based Amgen.
Biovitrum is working with a small molecule - which generally can be administered orally - known as 11b-HSD1. The enzyme inhibitor can be used as a form of early intervention to delay the onset of life-threatening metabolic disorders.
Industry analysts lauded the move, saying such deals are important for Amgen.
``This is what large companies need to do,'' said John McCamant, editor of the Medical Technology Stock Letter in San Francisco. ``Diabetes is a real sweet spot, too. There is a huge market out there and a growing population.''
About 20 million Americans currently suffer from Type II diabetes, a disease that affects more than 160 million people worldwide.
``Amgen seems more like a biopharmaceutical now. They have proven that they can play with the big boys,'' McCamant said.
Amgen has also granted Biovitrum co-promotion rights in the European Union for its rheumatoid arthritis drug Kineret, along with rights to market an experimental treatment for chemotherapy-related mouth sores in the Nordic region.
``This agreement represents a significant commitment by Amgen to pursue innovative treatments for metabolic diseases including insulin resistance,'' Roger M. Perlmutter, executive vice president of Research and Development for Amgen, said in a statement. ``We are gaining access to important research that we hope will develop into an effective treatment for Type II diabetes. At the same time, we are establishing a strong working relationship with an organization whose work complements our own.''
Amgen has developed similar relationships in the past. The company recently partnered with NeoGenesis Pharmaceuticals to develop drugs targeting cancer and other diseases that affect the brain.
Though terms of the deal were not disclosed, the move is a multiyear agreement in which NeoGenesis will receive funding and payments from Amgen for achieving research milestones. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company also will be entitled to royalties should its discovery efforts prevail.
Jennifer Chao, analyst with RBC Capital Markets in New York, said Amgen has devoted $1.5 billion to research and development activities in 2003. The company is expected to have $2.5 billion directed toward the development of new products in 2005.
Amgen shares rose 92 cents to close at $68.20 Monday on the Nasdaq market.
Evan Pondel, (818) 713-3662
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Article Type:||Statistical Data Included|
|Date:||Sep 9, 2003|
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