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Celgene to buy biotech company

Celgene has agreed to buy Abraxis BioScience, a biotech firm focused on drug-delivery technology, for around $2.9bn in upfront payments

Celgene Corporation has signed an agreement to buy Abraxis BioScience, a biotech firm focused on drug-delivery technology, for around $2.9bn in upfront payments, in addition to potential milestone payments and royalties due to shareholders.

Through the merger, Celgene will acquire Abraxane, a form of paclitaxel that won US approval in early 2005 as a treatment for breast cancer after failure of combination chemotherapy for metastatic disease or relapse within six months of adjuvant chemotherapy.

The drug was approved in Europe for a similar indication in 2008.

The product is the first drug developed using Abraxis BioScience's proprietary nab technology platform. The technology wraps paclitaxel inside albumin, a naturally-occurring human protein, allowing the drug to be administered to the tumour site at higher doses than previously possible.

Abraxane is also being investigated for other indications, including in phase III studies as a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and in late-stage clinical studies for pancreatic cancer. The drug has US orphan status for pancreatic cancer and melanoma.

Milestone payments under the merger deal include $250m on FDA approval of Abraxane for NSCLC with a progression-free survival claim, $300m upon FDA approval for pancreatic cancer with an overall survival claim, and $100m on FDA approval for pancreatic cancer by April 1, 2013.

The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2010.

30th June 2010

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