Photocure, Ipsen partner to commercialise Hexvix for diagnosis of bladder cancer

Ipsen (Paris:IPN) (Euronext: IPN, ADR: IPSEY) announces today a partnership with Photocure (OSE: PHO), a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on photodynamic technologies in cancer and dermatology. Photocure has entered into a strategic collaboration with Ipsen to commercialise Hexvix®, its flagship product for the diagnosis and resection of bladder cancer, worldwide except in the United States of America (USA) and the Nordic region.

Hexvix® has been the first significant advance for the improved detection of bladder cancer. The drug has been designed to induce specific fluorescence in the malignant cells in the bladder during a cystoscopic procedure, by improving the detection and resection of non invasive bladder cancer. Hexvix®, initially approved in Sweden in 2004, was approved across Europe by 2006 and in the US in 2010. Since 2006, the product has been commercialized in Europe by GE Healthcare. Hexvix® was initially approved in the EU based on strong clinical data showing improved detection and resection of bladder cancer. More recently, new clinical data has shown that improved detection using Hexvix® makes local surgery more complete and leads to significant reduction in the recurrence of bladder cancer. Based on this, Hexvix® has the potential to change the diagnosis of bladder cancer and significantly improve patient outcomes. The French authorities have qualified the "actual benefit" ("service medical rendu") of Hexvix® as "substantial" and have assessed that "fluorescence cystoscopy with Hexvix 85mg, used as adjunct to white light cystoscopy, provides an Important Improvement in Actual Benefit (IAB II) in the diagnostic management strategy of superficial bladder tumor".

With € 14 million estimated sales base in 2011, Ipsen will be responsible for marketing and selling Hexvix® worldwide, excluding the US and Nordic region. Ipsen has a strong and well established uro-oncology franchise and will initially commercialize Hexvix® in Europe through its dedicated salesforce.

Ipsen will pay Photocure and GE Healthcare an upfront payment of €19 million as well as manufacturing milestones to Photocure of € 5 million. Ipsen will also pay royalties on net sales and milestones on specific sales achievements. In addition, Photocure will manufacture the product for Ipsen and, in 2012 and 2013 will invest with Ipsen in marketing and sales programs up to € 3 million to drive momentum and accelerate the sales growth of Hexvix®. Detailed financial terms are not disclosed but are in line with standard industry agreements for a marketed product.

Kjetil Hestdal, President & CEO of Photocure, said: "We are delighted to announce a new and focused commercial platform for our Hexvix® brand. Our strategy is to build Photocure into a profitable specialty pharmaceutical company by maximising the potential of our products. This is a major step forward in executing our strategy. Ipsen is an excellent partner with its strategic focus on uro-oncology and a dedicated salesforce. We believe this agreement and establishing own commercial operations in the US will maximise the potential of Hexvix® and provide long term value for our shareholders."

Marc de Garidel, Ipsen's Chairman and CEO, said: "The new strategy we announced on 9 June is based on an increased focus on our key franchises. We are therefore proud to announce the in-licensing of an innovative drug indicated in the management of bladder cancer to complement our offer in uro-oncology. Hexvix® will develop commercial synergies with Decapeptyl®, our GnRh analog indicated for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer and with tasquinimod currently in phase III development by our partner Active Biotech for asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, chemotherapy-naive men with metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). Hexvix® is a unique product which considerably improves the detection and resection of bladder cancers and ameliorates our offer in uro-oncology for the benefit of patients, prescribers and all stakeholders".

GE Healthcare has held the licence to market, sell and distribute Hexvix® since 2006. GE Healthcare continues to have the highest confidence in the drug, but since urology is not a core business area for the company, Photocure has renegotiated the global licensing agreement enabling it to license the marketing rights for Hexvix® to Ipsen and to commercialize the product directly in the US.

Stephen Lightfoot, COO, Medical Diagnostics, GE Healthcare said: "We have had a successful collaboration with Photocure and are proud to have launched Hexvix® and to have worked with the product over the last six years. Urology is not a core business area for GE Healthcare and we believe a company that is dedicated to uro-oncology would be better placed to enable Hexvix® to reach its full market potential and benefit more patients."




The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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