Nordion said today it will sell its liver cancer drug to U.K.-based BTG for $200 million cash, leaving the Canadian company with its specialty medical isotope business four months after it launched a strategic review of operations.

The drug, TheraSphere®, is the only product in Nordion’s Target Therapies business, which generated $48.5 million last year, up 14% from 2011. Nordion would continue manufacturing TheraSphere for three years under an agreement that can be extended for two years at BTG’s option.

The deal is subject to approval by BTG shareholders and “customary” closing conditions, Nordion said. At completion of the deal, expected in June, some 40 Nordion staffers will join BTG.

“Nordion built TheraSphere into a valuable product over the past decade and has positioned it for future growth and development. Given BTG’s position as a leader in interventional medicine, we believe it is an ideal home for TheraSphere and the talented people that support it,” Nordion CEO Steve West said in a statement.

TheraSphere consists of millions of small glass microspheres (20 to 30 micrometers in diameter) containing radioactive Y-90. Physicians inject TheraSphere into the artery of a patient’s liver through a catheter, which allows the treatment to be delivered directly to a tumor via blood flow.

In the U.S., TheraSphere is indicated for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who have appropriately-positioned hepatic arterial catheters, and can be a bridge to surgery or transplantation in these patients. TheraSphere is also indicated for HCC patients with partial or branch portal vein thrombosis or occlusion, following clinical evaluation.

Nordion launched its strategic review Jan. 28 with assistance from investment firm Jefferies, but without announcing a timeline for completion.

Nordion acted following losses from a legal battle with primary supplier Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), touched off when AECL canceled plans to furnish isotopes from its Maple nuclear reactors to Nordion following delays and cost overruns. An arbitrator ruled against Nordion when it sought damages from AECL.

“We intend to continue our strategic review process, which includes an assessment of potential uses for the cash proceeds from this sale,” West added in the statement. Net of cash, taxes and transaction costs, Nordion expects to realize approximately $185 million upon closing the deal. 

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