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Celgene to buy Abraxis BioScience.

Celgene to Buy Abraxis BioScience. Biotechnology company Celgene Corp. (Summit NJ), which makes the blood cancer drugs Revlimid and Thalomid, has agreed to acquire Abraxis BioScience Inc. (Los Angeles CA) for $2.9 billion to gain the drug Abraxane, as it expands into treatments that attack solid tumors. By agreeing to sell his company, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, 57, is adding to a fortune that Forbes valued last year at $4 billion. Dr. Soon-Shiong, a surgeon, owns 82.4% of Abraxis, a company he founded in order to develop a novel form of a widely used cancer drug. Only two years ago, Dr. Soon-Shiong sold a generic-drug company he controlled, APP Pharmaceuticals (Schaumburg IL), to Fresenius Medical Care AG (Bad Homburg, Germany) for an initial payment of $3.7 billion. That deal and his stake in Abraxis have made Dr. Soon-Shiong "the wealthiest man in Los Angeles, ahead of all the Hollywood moguls," according to The Los Angeles Business Journal. Abraxane consists of the cancer drug paclitaxel, also known by the brand name Taxol, bound to particles of a protein called albumin. That allows Abraxane to reach tumors more effectively, Abraxis says. It also makes the drug more tolerable. Unlike plain paclitaxel, Abraxane does not have to be dissolved in a toxic solvent, so patients do not have to be treated with steroids in advance to control side effects caused by a solvent.

Abraxane was approved to treat metastatic breast cancer in 2005. Its sales last year totaled $315 million, accounting for about 90% of the revenue of Abraxis, which is not yet profitable. Still, the sales of Abraxane have fallen below Wall Street expectations, in part because it is far more expensive than paclitaxel, which is now generic. Celgene, which is one of the most successful biotechnology companies with sales last year of $2.7 billion, said it believed it would be able to increase sales of Abraxane to $1 billion annually by 2015. Abraxis has been testing the drug as a treatment for lung and pancreatic cancer. Primarily because of its drug Revlimid for multiple myeloma, Celgene is already a leader in the market for drugs to treat cancers of the blood. The Abraxis deal would move it into so-called solid tumors like breast cancer and lung cancer. Abraxis shares closed the week up $12.15, or 20%, at $74.25. Celgene fell $5.33, or 10%, to $50.74.
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Title Annotation:TOP STORIES
Publication:MondayMorning
Date:Jul 5, 2010
Words:401
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