Is Aventis following in the footsteps of Bristol-Myers Squibb?
All will remember that Bristol-Myers Squibb paid a sizeable sum (US$2 billion) for ImClone shares, shortly before the FDA rejected the first submission of the file of IMC-225. Aventis, another pharma giant, has agreed to pay up to US$480 million to Genta, a small biotechnology company in New Jersey. Financial reporters say that the Aventis deal shows that pharmaceutical companies, many of which are not producing enough new drugs on their own to sustain growth, are still willing to pay heavily for drugs that are close to reaching the market. But Aventis is cautious and more than half of the US$480 million will not be paid until Genasense (an antisense cancer drug) wins various approvals. Genasense blocks Bcl-2 and allows cells to undergo apoptosis. Studies are near completion in melanoma, multiple myeloma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Another cytotoxic wins orphan drug status Bryostatin-1, now of the German company GPC Biotech, was awarded orphan drug status in esopheageal cancer th