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Indian firm Piramal licenses Alzheimer's diagnostic florbetaben from Bayer

Deal will assign worldwide rights to Bayer's imaging portfolio to a new Piramal company

Indian pharma company Piramal Healthcare has announced an agreement to license various molecular imaging compounds from Bayer, including its Alzheimer's disease diagnostic florbetaben which is currently in phase III testing.

The deal would assign worldwide rights to Bayer's imaging portfolio to a new company Piramal plans to set up called Piramal Imaging SA, with some of Bayer's R&D staff transferring to the new company.

Florbetaben is a radio-labelled PET tracer for the detection of amyloid plaque deposits in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of disease in probable Alzheimer's disease patients. Historically, the only way to definitively diagnose Alzheimer's disease has been after death - at autopsy - through analysis and identification of beta-amyloid in brain tissue.

The imaging agent works in a similar way to Eli Lilly's Amyvid (florbetapir F18), which has just been approved in the US at its second attempt, as well as GE Healthcare's flutemetamol which is in phase III testing.

Piramal said it plans to file for approval of florbetaben later this year, and estimates that the new class of PET imaging agents for Alzheimer's disease has a global market potential of up to $1.5bn.

The pharma company also posted a press release today announcing positive phase III results for florbetaben (formerly BAY 94-9172). All the endpoints were met in the study, according to the company, which said PET imaging with florbetaben "demonstrated 100 per cent sensitivity and 92 per cent specificity".

The phase III results are scheduled to be presented on April, 25 at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting in New Orleans.

This is the second major licensing agreement announced by Piramal for late-stage pipeline assets after its purchase of rights to BioSyntech's cartilage repair product BST-CarGel in 2011.

"We plan to build a promising portfolio in the pharma space, including our newly acquired molecular imaging assets, which will help us create a global branded pharma business," commented the company's chairman Ajay Piramal.

16th April 2012

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