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Sep 22, 2008
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Global reinvention

Biovitrum AB has reinvented itself twice since it was formed in 2001. Last week's deal with Amgen Inc. is directly in line with its latest incarnation as a specialty care-focused biotech that is looking to go global, while also making up for revenues that will be lost as partner Wyeth switches Factor VIII products that Biovitrum manufactures and co-promotes in the Nordic region.

When it was spun out of Pharmacia Corp. in 2001, Biovitrum had 900 employees - including more than 400 scientists - a revenue base from process development and manufacturing services, and what looked to be a robust pipeline focused on metabolic diseases. But its first three clinical compounds were terminated in 2003 and 2004, leaving it as a preclinical company(see BioCentury, Nov. 15, 2004, & March 28, 2005).

At that time, the remedy was to expand its R&D focus to areas beyond metabolic diseases and to fill its pipeline through licenses and acquisitions.

To that end, Biovitrum acquired obesity, pain and inflammation company Cambridge BioTechnology Ltd. and metabolic, autoimmune and inflammation company Arexis AB in 2005. The company also in-licensed dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP IV) inhibitors to treat metabolic diseases from Santhera Pharmaceuticals Holding AG.

As part of its strategic shift, Biovitrum decided to allocate a larger share of internal resources to later-stage development, laying off 85 researchers in early discovery.

But the board concluded the company was spreading itself too thin and asked Martin Nicklasson to assess its diverse pipeline when he became president and CEO in May 2007. As a result, last November he announced Biovitrum would refocus on diseases treated by specialists, out-license primary care projects...

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