Pharmaceutical News: Cumberland Pharmaceuticals acquires drug candidate from Vanderbilt

Cumberland Pharmaceuticals acquires drug candidate from Vanderbilt

Cumberland Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Tuesday it has agreed to acquire rights to a molecule named ifetroban that it plans to test as a potential in-hospital treatment for a condition that involves progressive kidney failure.

The purchase adds a potential new product to the Nashville-based specialty pharmaceutical company’s thin drug pipeline.

Cumberland acquired the ifetroban program from Vanderbilt University through its majority-owned subsidiary Cumberland Emerging Technologies.

Specific terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed.

Cumberland said it has begun clinical development under the brand name Hepatoren (ifetroban).

It is focusing on development for treatment of critically ill hospitalized patients suffering from Hepatorenal Syndrom, a life-threatening condition involving progressive kidney failure.

Ifetroban may improve kidney function in patients by increasing low renal blood flow, Cumberland said, adding today there’s no drug approved for treatment in the United States. A subset of the roughly 450,000 patients nationwide that suffer from medical conditions that make them susceptible to cirrhosis develop Hepatorenal Syndrom every year, executives said.

David Windley, a Jefferies & Co. analyst in Nashville who tracks Cumberland, said that the target patient population is 25,000 to 30,000 with a sales potential of more than $50 million.

“So (it’s) a reasonable size for them, but not a huge product,” Windley said about Ifetroban, which could hit the markets in 2014. “It gives them a clinical candidate in their pipeline.”

The product addition comes as sales of Cumberland’s Acetadote injection for treatment of acetaminophen poisoning has been stable, but its Caldolor (ibuprofen) injection, an injectable treatment for pain and fever, is still struggling, Windley said.

Cumberland Emerging Technologies, which has a life sciences incubator in Nashville, is a joint initiative between drugmaker Cumberland, Vanderbilt University and the Tennessee Technology Development Corp.

Pharmaceutical sales top $300 billion in 2010

Spending on prescription medicines rose 2.3 percent last year in the U.S. to $307 billion, according to a new study.

The study by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics noted the increase was lower than the 5.1 percent growth rate in 2009. And the volume of prescription medicines consumed overall rose at historically low levels — only 0.5 percent — in 2010.

“Last year, we saw the convergence of key dynamics leading to diminished growth in drug spending, which included the greater use of generics, loss of patent protection for major branded products, slower demand and less spending on new therapies,” said Michael Kleinrock, director of research development at IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. “Moreover, fewer patients visited physician offices and initiated new chronic therapy treatments last year, likely the result of the slower economy.”

Baxter to buy heart drug firm

Baxter International Inc. said Monday it will acquire privately-held Prism Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company based in King of Prussia, Pa.

Terms of the agreement include a total consideration of up to $338 million, consisting of an upfront cash payment of $170 million at closing and up to $168 million in future sales-based milestone payments. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2011, subject to customary closing conditions.

Prism has developed and received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for multiple presentations of Nexterone, an antiarrhythmic agent used to suppress abnormal rhythms of the heart. The product portfolio includes the first and only ready-to-use premixed intravenous bag formulations, as well as vials and a pre-filled syringe.

“Nexterone is a great addition to our leading portfolio of premix drugs and solutions for the acute care setting,” said Robert Davis, president of Baxter’s Medical Products business. “It offers clinicians a unique, ready-to-use antiarrhythmic agent for critical and time-sensitive situations, while also providing convenience to caregivers and value to pharmacists.”

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