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Apr 19, 2010
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Finding cancer flexibility

Teva expands novel cancer pipeline with Mersana's XMT-1107

Generic drug maker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. has no internal research capabilities and has for years leveraged its relationships with Israeli academic organizations and startup biotechs to provide it with early stage opportunities as it has built up its pipeline of innovative compounds.

Based on the productivity of its domestic in-licensing effort, Teva decided in early 2008 to take a more global approach in its search for new product opportunities. In its latest deal last week, Teva received exclusive, ex-Japanese rights from Mersana Therapeutics Inc. to XMT-1107, an anti-angiogenic fumagillin analog to treat cancer that is delivered via Mersana's Fleximer polymer technology.

Teva's two marketed innovator products - Copaxone glatiramer acetate for multiple sclerosis and Azilect rasagiline for Parkinson's disease - came from the Weizmann Institute of Science and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, respectively.

When it decided to look beyond Israel, the company's first move was to install two business development people in the U.S., with one on each coast, two more in Europe, and two in Israel to cover the rest of the world, according to Josh Levine, senior director of Teva's Innovative Venture partnering unit.

Aharon Schwartz, VP of the unit, told BioCentury that Teva is particularly interested in compounds to treat autoimmune, neurology and cancer indications. The ideal candidates are about two years away from the clinic, he said, because Teva can provide the resources to accelerate progress.

"It would be a waste of time to wait until potential partners get to the clinic, where obviously competition will just be stronger anyway," he added.

By 2015, Teva hopes to achieve $31 billion in sales, with 30% coming from innovative products. Last year, the company posted $13.9 billion in sales, including $2.7 billion (19%) from sales of Copaxone and Azilect.

At least 17 of the pharma's 26 in-licensing or acquisition...

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