Cephalon Plays "Let's Make a Deal"

Never one to shy away from making a deal, Cephalon licensed a small drug-delivery platform on Monday from tiny Acusphere (Nasdaq: ACUS  ) for $10 million.

The platform helps turn drugs that don't dissolve well in water into more water-soluble compounds. In the deal, Cephalon also gets Acusphere's reformulation of the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel, AI-850, which Acusphere claims is bioequivalent to Abraxis BioScience's (Nasdaq: ABII  ) taxane Abraxane. The drug has completed phase 1 testing.

In the third quarter of last year, Abraxis' Abraxane brought in sales of $86 million, up 65% year over year. At this rate of sales growth, Abraxane will easily be a more than $400-million-a-year drug by the end of 2008. If Cephalon can use its much larger resources to bring Acusphere's paclitaxel to market, and if it can capture even a nominal chunk of the taxane market from Abraxane, then this $10 million deal with Acusphere is going to look like one of the steals of the decade for a drugmaker.

Cephalon has slowly been building up its anti-cancer pipeline and marketed products in the years since 2005, when it purchased Cell Therapeutics' (Nasdaq: CTIC  ) Trisenox for $70 million, Salmedix for $160 million, and Zeneus Pharma for $360 million.

Some of these 2005 acquisitions are already paying off for Cephalon, as we saw when Treanda received FDA marketing approval last month. With Cephalon proving its adeptness at purchasing new compounds and bringing them to market (could the company be the best in the industry?), I wouldn't be surprised to see this Acusphere deal pay off for Cephalon several years from now.

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Related Tickers

12/31/1969 7:00 PM
CEPH $0.00 Down +0.00 +0.00%
Cephalon, Inc. CAPS Rating: ****
ACUS $0.06 Down +0.00 +0.00%
ACUSPHERE, INC. CAPS Rating: *****
CTIC $0.40 Down -0.01 -1.58%
CTI BioPharma CAPS Rating: **