Serono reloads

Although Serono S.A. has a billion-dollar product in multiple sclerosis drug Rebif, the company has a pipeline problem. Minus two Phase III products that experienced setbacks last month, only two of its remaining six Phase III compounds are novel.

This month, Serono (SWX:SEO; SRA, Geneva, Switzerland) added four preclinical compounds and one Phase III product to its pipeline. The company says all are relatively low risk, as they address targets that are validated by marketed products.

"For all the targets, there is quite a body of evidence that they are key targets in their respective indications," said Leon Bushara, senior executive vice president of business development.

SEO's two most recent deals were with BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. for Phenoptin sapropterin and Phenylase phenylalanine ammonia lyase, and with NovImmune S.A. for two preclinical human antibodies to treat autoimmune diseases. Earlier in the month, SEO in-licensed HuMax-TAC, a human antibody against the interleukin-2 receptor, from Genmab A/S.

Prior to these deals and after the two setbacks in April, SEO had a pipeline of 20 preclinical and clinical programs; however, nine of them are extensions of already marketed products (see "Serono's Pipeline"). In April, SEO gave up

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