Company gains U.S. commercialization and development rights to drug that generated $16.4M last year.

Cell Therapeutics (CTI) is buying the U.S. rights to Biogen Idec’s lymphoma treatment in a transaction valued at over $30 million in cash. Approved in 2002, Zevalin® was the first FDA-sanctioned radioimmunotherapy.

The anticipated acquisition marks CTI’s entrance into the commercial oncology market. In 2006, Biogen Idec reported $16.4 million in U.S. Zevalin sales. CTI believes that they can expand its potential. “Zevalin is an effective yet underutilized drug with a favorable tolerability profile, producing high rates of complete response coupled with long-term remissions, all following just a single therapeutic dose,” points out Jack W. Singer, M.D., CMO of CTI. “We believe the potential cost savings and practice efficiencies compared to standard combination chemotherapy will become increasingly attractive to oncology group practices in the ever-evolving reimbursement environment.”

Upon closing, CTI has agreed to pay Biogen Idec $10 million in cash, up to an additional $20 million in milestone payments when the product receives approval for a first-line indication in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), and royalties on sales.

Zevalin is indicated for the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory low-grade or follicular B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), including patients with Rituximab-refractory NHL. “We are currently planning to conduct registration-directed trials to expand the label into first-line treatment in both the aggressive and indolent NHL settings,” says Dr. Singer.

CTI will be responsible for marketing, sales, and development of the drug in the U.S. The product will continue to be sold outside the U.S. by Bayer Schering under an agreement between Biogen Idec and Bayer Schering. CTI also has agreed to share the cost of certain clinical trials of Zevalin with Bayer.

“Importantly, in addition to the untapped revenue potential for Zevalin, it is an excellent complement to pixantrone, which is in Phase III trials in similar patient populations,” adds James A. Bianco, M.D., president and CEO.

The acquisition is the second of two steps CTI has taken to strengthen its product pipeline. On July 31, CTI completed the $20-million acquisition of Systems Medicine (SMi), thus gaining a late-stage anticancer candidate.

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