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Pfizer spots potential of Organon atypical antipsychotic

Published on 28/10/03 at 12:28pm

Pfizer is  to co-develop and promote a promising new atypical antipsychotic discovered by Dutch pharma company Organon.

Under the terms of the agreement which is subject to government approval, the companies will collaborate on the clinical development of asenapine, and co-promote the product in the US, European Union, Japan and other markets.

Pfizer has backed the drug potential for the treatment for a variety of disorders just as it is entering phase III trials in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The US company has paid Organon an initial $100 million payment and will pay up to $270 million more in pre-launch milestones, dependent on regulatory approval and launches.

Akzo Nobel, Organon's parent company welcomed the deal, indicating that Pfizer''s investment and marketing muscle would help the drug reach its potential.

"We believe this collaboration will provide the appropriate development and commercial resources necessary to serve the patient population who may benefit from this treatment," said Toon Wilderbeek, a member of Akzo Nobel board.

"We are very pleased Organon chose Pfizer as its partner to advance the development of asenapine, which has the potential to help patients live more productive lives," said Karen Katen, president, Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals.

"As with most drugs in the neuroscience category, psychotropic medications work for only about 70% of individual patients, so new treatments are always needed. We believe asenapine will present additional options for patients and physicians in the management of psychoses, allow us to build upon Pfizer's expertise in this area and compliment our current neuroscience portfolio."

Pfizer already has their own atypical antipsychotic on the market, Geodon which was launched in 2001. The company is challenging a recent FDA ruling that all drugs in the class must carry a warning about increased risk of diabetes, saying there is no evidence to link its product to the side-effect.

The deal is welcome news for the struggling conglomerate, with US-based Organon sales falling 10% in the third quarter, and operating profit dropping 34%.

The single biggest factor behind the worrying figures is the collapse in sales of former blockbuster antidepressant Remeron. The drug US patent expired last December, and fell a further 35% in the third quarter as generic competitors seized market share.

Fritx Frulich, the company chief financial officer warned that 2004 would be equally hard for the company, which will see Remeron's European patent expire, with no significant new drug launched until the end of 2004.

Eight hundred jobs in the company's pharmaceutical business have been cut this year as part of a drastic restructuring of the business, which Frulich warned could continue in the new year.

"It's going to be another tough year and we will have to cut costs to defend our margins. I do not rule out more [cuts] being announced."

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