Friday, February 13, 2009


Merck to Buy Insmed Candidates

Merck said it will buy a slate of biotech drug candidates and a manufacturing facility from Richmond-based Insmed for $130 million.

Insmed agreed to sell its pipeline of "biosimilars," or "follow-on biologic drugs" -- drugs that are attempted copies of biotech drugs, which are made using living cells. In the deal, Merck would gain products including INS-19 and INS-20. The drugs are designed to prevent infections in cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy. Late-stage trials of INS-19 are being planned, and INS-20 is in early-stage testing. Merck will pay Insmed $10 million upfront for the drugs and will make the rest of its payment when the deal closes. It will not owe any milestone or royalty payments.

Good Results for Osiris Stem Cell Drug

Osiris Therapeutics said its stem cell therapy proved safe as a treatment for heart attack patients in a two-year study. Preliminary results for the Columbia company's drug Prochymal showed that heart attack patients had fewer negative events than patients taking a placebo. Of the 53 patients in the study, eight taking Prochymal experienced a negative event, compared with 11 for patients taking a placebo. Osiris said it plans to move ahead with mid-stage studies of the drug.

The drug is made from adult stem cells and is designed to regenerate tissue and prevent scar formation.

Shares of Osiris Therapeutics rose 44 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $20.43.

Emergent to Sell Vaccine in India

Emergent BioSolutions of Rockville said its BioThrax anthrax vaccine is now allowed to be marketed and sold in India. Emergent said it signed a marketing deal with Biological E. Limited for India.

"Today marks a pivotal milestone in Emergent's efforts to expand globally and further our mission of protecting life," Emergent chief executive Fuad El-Hibri said in a statement.

Compiled from reports by Washington Post staff writers, the Associated Press and Bloomberg News.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company