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GEN News Highlights : Jul 24, 2013

Ligand Inks Week's Second Lasofoxifene Licensing Deal

Ligand Pharmaceuticals has licensed to Ethicor Pharma rights to manufacture and distribute the oral formulation of lasofoxifene in the European Economic Area, Switzerland, and the Indian subcontinent—the second licensing agreement inked by Ligand this week.

The value of the newest licensing deal was not disclosed, though Ligand said it was entitled to receive potential payments tied to undisclosed sales milestones, as well as a double-digit royalty on future net sales of lasofoxifene, a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) now indicated for osteoporosis treatment and other diseases.

According to Ligand, Ethicor plans to distribute oral lasofoxifene as an unlicensed medicinal product that doctors may request for patients when authorized medicines are unsuitable or contraindicated. Ethicor specializes in developing and distributing unlicensed medicinal products or “specials” produced in limited or medium bulk quantities and primarily used for unmet clinical needs.

“This agreement with Ethicor represents another potentially valuable shot-on-goal for Ligand,” John Higgins, Ligand’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

On Monday, Ligand said it licensed to Azure Biotech development rights for a new formulation of lasofoxifene targeting an undisclosed “underserved market in women's health.” In return, Azure agreed to pay Ligand $2.7 million tied to undisclosed development and regulatory milestones, and a 5% royalty on future net sales.

Oral lasofoxifene was developed by Pfizer under the trade name Fablyn® and approved in the EU, though Pfizer and Ligand collaborated starting in 1991 on research leading to the drug.

Until now, Ligand held rights to lasofoxifene’s oral formulation that were reverted to it in 2011 from Pfizer following the pharma giant’s acquisition of Wyeth, whose assets included a similar SERM program called Conbriza® (bazedoxifene).