Company will use funds to push on with late-stage development and commercialization of cancer drug Belinostat.

SpePharm is paying €6 million, or about $8.17 million, for worldwide rights except in North and South America to TopoTarget’s anthracycline extravasation treatment, Savene®. The divestiture will allow TopoTarget to focus on its lead anticancer agent, Belinostat, and bolsters SpePharm’s European presence.

The agreement includes all Savene-related European assets and the transfer of TopoTarget’s European sales team to SpePharm. In parallel, SpePharm reported closing a €7 million, or roughly $9.52 million, equity financing round with its existing investors. Additionally it secured a €4 million ($5.4 million) convertible debenture from Palladin Labs. The latter deal gives Paladin an exclusive license to Savene for South Africa and Israel. The two companies will also grant each other reciprocal rights in their respective territories relating to any future product acquisitions or licensing transactions.

“Savene, together with the sales and marketing team of TopoTarget that will join us, will give SpePharm the opportunity to expand its commercial presence into several additional European countries and reinforce our position in hospital oncology departments throughout Europe,” states Jean-François Labbé, SpePharm’s M.D. and CEO.

TopoTarget retains all rights to the drug in North and South America, where it is trademarked as Totect®. Savene/Totect is a topoisomerase II inhibitor, approved in the EU since 2006 and the U.S. since 2007. It was the first product to emerge from TopoTarget’s in-house drug discovery technology. The company reported that sales of the drug reached DKK 39.1 million (approximately $7.14 million) in 2008, compared with DKK 21.6 million (approximately $3.94 million) in 2007.

TopoTarget says that the divestiture will help fund the continued clinical development and commercialization of Belinostat, a histone deacetylase inhibitor. The drug is undergoing late- and mid-stage clinical trials against a range of hematologic and solid cancers. At the beginning of February TopoTarget teamed up with Spectrum Pharmaceuticals in a potentially $350 million deal to co-develop and commercialize Belinostat in North America and India.

TopoTarget maintains Belinostat has blockbuster potential as an anticancer drug. “Based on our core strategy and commitment to our shareholders to focus on the development and commercialization of Belinostat for the treatment of cancer patients we have made the decision to divest the European marketing and sales of Savene,” reports CEO, Francois Martelet M.D.

Belinostat is currently in a registrational trial against relapsed or refractory peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL). The drug is also under investigation in a randomized Phase II trial against cancer of unknown primary (CUP) in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel. Additionally, NCI is currently conducting several clinical trials of Belinostat in a variety of hematological and solid tumors, both as monotherapy as well as combination therapy.

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