German generics producer Schwarz Pharma has licensed rights to a drug delivery technology developed by US company Lipocine, to revamp its pipeline in the face of competitive threats to its biggest product.
Schwarz has enjoyed phenomenal success in its business of late, largely on the back of its generic version of AstraZeneca's multibillion-dollar gastrointestinal drug Losec/Prilosec (omeprazole). This made huge sales in the US after gaining an early entry into the marketplace in December 2002, ahead of generic rivals.
However, this privileged position came to an end last year as three generics firms - Lek, Apotex and Mylan - launched their own versions of the drug, despite ongoing legal challenges from Schwarz. The result was a decline in revenues in the first quarter of the year almost as steep as its earlier climb. Turnover fell by more than 50 per cent to €226 million.
Lipocine's systems have been clinically proven to help deliver drugs that have poor solubility and absorption in the body, Schwarz said in a statement. They are based on the use of lipid carriers that can encapsulate active compounds and deliver them more effectively to their site of action in the body. The company maintains that these formulations are easy to manufacture and low in cost.
In exchange for receiving exclusive worldwide rights to a number of compounds on which it uses the technology, Schwarz will take a stake in Lipocine and pay licensing fees for access to its products and technologies. Several of Schwarz' compounds are included in the deal.
Schwarz recently said that it is planning to acquire a range of speciality products - improved formulations of existing drugs - to bolster its pipeline while it waits for new launches from its pipeline.