Cell Therapeutics ends Novartis cancer drug deal

Mon, 01/13/2014 - 4:00pm
The Associated Press

Shares of Cell Therapeutics rose Monday after the company said it ended a licensing agreement with Novartis that covered two cancer drugs.

Under the deal, Novartis had the right to license the two drugs, Opaxio and Pixuvri, but it had not exercised those rights. Cell Therapeutics will regain full rights to the two products. It agreed to make payments to the Swiss pharmaceutical company based on sales or any future licensing deals.

Novartis gained an option to take over development of both drugs as part of a 2006 deal between the two companies. Cell Therapeutics, based in Seattle, could have received up to $270 million in payments from development and sales of Opaxio, or paclitaxel poliglumex, and $111.5 million in payments connected to Pixuvri, or pixantrone. It also would have received royalties on sales of both drugs. However Cell Therapeutics has handled all the development and marketing work because Novartis hasn't exercised those options.

European Union regulators approved Pixuvri in 2012 as a treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Opaxio is not approved. It is a version of the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel, and it is designed to deliver larger amounts of paclitaxel directly to tumors while reducing the amount of the drug that reaches healthy tissue.

Shares of Cell Therapeutics Inc. gained 23 cents, or 8.8 percent, to $2.89 in afternoon trading. Novartis AG shares slipped 90 cents to $80.44.


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