Out from Down Under

A dearth of funding often forces Australian companies to out-license products too early in development to get any meaningful revenues out of them, because they can't afford to get them to market by themselves. By moving into the U.S. in 2006, Peplin Inc. was able to keep full rights to its compounds until it was acquired by Leo Pharma A/S last November for $287.5 million in cash.

More proof-of-principle for the global approach may be provided this week, when ChemGenex Pharmaceuticals Ltd. is set to undergo an FDA panel review for Omapro omacetaxine mepesuccinate, a cancer product gained when Australia's AGT Biosciences Ltd. acquired a California biotech bearing the ChemGenex name.

A third Australian play with an international theme, Pharmaxis Ltd., also looks to be on the cusp of commercialization in the U.S.

In Peplin's case, the takeout price was 2.4x the $120 million the biotech had raised from investors since it was founded in 1998 to develop drugs derived from the sap of the common plant Euphorbia peplus. The sap has been used since the early 1800s as a home remedy to treat

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