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Novartis signs respiratory deal with UK biotech companies

Published on 14/04/05 at 01:56pm

Novartis has signed a deal with two UK biotech companies to develop and market a new treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The Swiss company will be responsible for developing the drug, currently known as AD 237 both as a monotherapy as well as in combination with a drug already in its pipeline, QAB149, a long-acting beta-2 agonist in phase II development.

Essex-based Arakis and Wiltshire-based Vectura have succeeded in bringing AD 237 to the late phase II stage, and hope Novartis can help them secure their first major commercial success.

The drug is a once-daily long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA) with a fast onset of action, and studies have shown that it is well tolerated and effective over 24 hours after a single dose.

AD 237 was discovered by Arakis and has been developed using Vectura's PowderHale inhalation technology for delivering a fine powder fraction through standard dry powder inhaler devices.

Dr Chris Blackwell, chief executive of Vectura said: "We believe that AD 237 will play a major role in the expansion of the COPD market which is underserved today but set for dramatic growth over the coming decade. Our objective is for AD 237 to be launched as a differentiated once-daily antimuscarinic having potential patient benefits over the competition, in this rapidly expanding market."

COPD is an irreversible and chronic obstruction of the airways, primarily caused by smoking and is the world's fourth largest cause of death. An estimated 4% of the population in the US, Europe and Japan have the condition, equivalent to 1 in 15 smokers.

The symptoms of the disease include chronic bronchitis and emphysema or both conditions, which slowly progress and lead to irreversible loss of lung function.

The market for COPD treatments is currently worth around $4 billion and is expected to grow to approximately $10 billion in 2010.



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