Priming the European Pipeline

Jul 01, 2002

With the huge costs of developing a new drug from scratch and the high attrition rates as lead compounds fail during the trials process, in-licensing has become an increasingly popular method for pharma companies to boost their pipelines without all of the outlay involved in de novo research.

GlaxoSmithKline has been one of the most aggressive, in-licensing potential products from third parties. Its most recent addition, a modified oral insulin to control post-meal blood glucose, has been taken through Phase I/II trials by US biotech company Nobex.

Other deals GSK signed in recent weeks are with Adolor and Unigene Laboratories. The Adolor collaboration concerns alvimopan, an oral treatment for post-operative bowel paralysis and opioid-induced constipation. It is currently in Phase III, and further indications will also be investigated. The company hopes its oral formulation of parathyroid hormone, an in-license from Unigene, will become a treatment for osteoporosis. Those three recent deals follow several agreements during the past year, notably with Bayer and Shionogi.

Roche, too, has made several recent deals. It in-licensed a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, coded MV026048, from the Anglo-Swedish company Medivir, which is expected to enter Phase I trials next year. It licensed ISATX247, a calcineurin inhibitor and developmental immunosuppressant for transplantation from Canada's Isotechnika. And it licensed all rights to a synthetic erythropoeisis protein to treat anemia, which Gryphon Sciences of San Francisco has taken through preclinical studies.

Genta's Genasense, an antisense compound for use as a cancer treatment, is in Phase III and the subject of a commercialization agreement with Aventis. And Wyeth has licensed an anticancer therapy from the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research's antibody program.

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