Shire Pharmaceuticals Licenses HIV Compound SPD754 to Australian Firm Avexa
U.K.-based Shire Pharmaceuticals Group on Monday announced that it has licensed its HIV compound SPD754 to Avexa, an Australian specialty anti-infectives company, AP/Yahoo! News reports (AP/Yahoo! News, 1/17). SPD754, which is a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, is currently in Phase II trials and is expected to reach the market in 2009. Avexa is planning a Phase IIb trial to show the drug's efficacy in HIV-positive people who have developed a resistance to other antiretrovirals, and results are planned for early 2006 (Urbanowicz, Dow Jones/iWon, 1/17). In a recent clinical trial among 63 patients, the drug successfully reduced HIV viral loads in all patients that took the drug, Australia's The Age reports (Urban, The Age, 1/19). Shire officials said that this is one of the final steps in the group's divestment program, which is designed to focus efforts on later-stage investment in the areas of central nervous system, gastrointestinal and renal diseases, AP/Yahoo! News reports. As a result, Avexa will have full responsibility over the worldwide development of SPD754 (AP/Yahoo! News, 1/17). Avexa will have the right to market the drug globally, except in North America, where Shire will retain the rights to commercialization, Reuters reports. Under the agreement, Shire will take a $1.52 million equity stake in Avexa, with the option to acquire four million additional shares (Reuters, 1/18). "Avexa has in-licensed this later-stage product because of its potential to generate significant revenues and to reduce the overall risk involved in drug development for our shareholders," Avexa CEO Julian Chick said (Australia News.com, 1/18). "Avexa is an ideal partner for the product, having the skills and expertise to take this program forward and see it through to registration and approval in a timely manner," Shire CEO Matthew Emmens said, adding, "At the same time, we are able to retain a stake in the future value of the product" (Shire release, 1/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.