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Teva and Schering-Plough UK to collaborate on bowel drug

Published on 03/11/06 at 11:01am

Teva has signed a deal with Schering-Plough UK to co-promote its ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease treatment, Mesren.

Teva hopes that by bringing Schering-Plough on board, it can mount a stronger challenge to the market leading brand in Mesren's class, Procter & Gamble's Asacol.

For Schering-Plough, Mesren is a perfect fit with one of its flagship brands, Remicade, the only anti-TNF product licensed in the UK to treat these chronic bowel disorders.

Mesren and Asacol share the same active ingredient, mesalazine, a drug in the 5-ASA class used by gastroenterologists to treat the conditions.

Teva and its new partner say the rival products deliver a virtually identical release profile (in vitro) but Mesren is considerably cheaper than Asacol.

The companies say UK clinicians could achieve savings of up to 35% by prescribing Mesren, a considerable potential cost reduction for the NHS, which they hope will persuade doctors to switch.

The UK market for 400mg 5-ASA drugs is estimated to be worth in excess of £40 million.  Mesren has been marketed by Teva (previously IVAX) in the UK since its licence was granted in 2003.

Schering-Plough will support Mesren through its established immunology team working in the gastroenterology field, marketing the product alongside its anti-TNF therapy Remicade.

Schering-Plough says Remicade will remain the core focus of its UK sales team, but that the arrangement extends its position in the inflammatory bowel disease market and will ultimately allow patients and clinicians to benefit from a planned package of care.

"This is the first UK market-specific deal for Schering-Plough and represents a significant step forward in our operational capability and growth," explained Gordon Coutts, general manager, Schering-Plough UK & Ireland. "This partnership supports our existing proposition in this therapy area and is in keeping with our focus of earning trust by putting the customer at the centre of business transactions as well as our strategic commitment to become a valued and innovative partner within the new NHS."

"This new addition to our inflammatory bowel disease portfolio strengthens our long-term business strategy and commitment to this market," explained Jim Page, immunology business unit director, Schering-Plough UK & Ireland. "Remicade has the heritage of being the first biologic therapy to market in the UK and remains the only anti-TNF therapy with licences for the treatment of patients with Crohn's and UC.  In addition, it has just received a further second-line licence approval for Crohn's disease. With this promotion agreement, Schering-Plough UK is well positioned to offer an entire treatment pathway for gastroenterologists and their patients."

John Beighton, managing director of Teva UK commented: "The skills and resources that Teva and Schering-Plough bring to this deal make this a great fit for both of us. Innovation in care and value are key to partnership with the NHS, and we have together taken a step forward in patient care and value for our customers."

Schering-Plough says the new alliance is part of a two-pronged strategy to achieve growth through stronger promotion of its current product line and to develop through and by business development and licensing.

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