Pharmion acquired Cabrellis Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage private oncology company dedicated to the development of amrubicin, a third-generation synthetic anthracycline currently in advanced Phase II development for small cell lung cancer (SCLC) in North America and the E.U.
"We have long stated our desire to expand our portfolio with an advanced stage oncology product with U.S. and, if possible, E.U. rights, and amrubicin fits our target profile exactly," says Patrick J. Mahaffy, president and CEO of Pharmion. “We believe that amrubicin will significantly alter treatment strategies for small cell lung cancer, a tumor with clear unmet medical need that is treated primarily with older drugs.”
Amrubicin has been approved in Japan since 2002, where it is marketed by Nippon Kayaku under the trade name Calced™ for the treatment of SCLC and non-small-cell-lung cancer. Dainippon Sumitomo Pharmaceuticals, the original developer of amrubicin, licensed the Japanese marketing rights to Nippon Kayaku in January 2005, and the North America and E.U. rights to Cabrellis (then Conforma Therapeutics) in June 2005. “Given its approval and use in Japan, we are confident in its activity in SCLC and given its encouraging cardiac profile, we are enthusiastic about its potential in other tumor types as well,"adds Mahaffy.
Under the terms of the agreement, Pharmion is acquiring Cabrellis for an initial cash payment of $59 million ($55 million after deducting the $4 million in net cash held by Cabrellis). In addition, Pharmion will make two additional payments of $12.5 million each upon approval of amrubicin in the U.S. and E.U. Upon amrubicin's approval for a second indication in the U.S. or E.U., Pharmion will make an additional payment of $10 million for each market.