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Biogen Idec terminates lixivaptan accord narrowing therapeutic focus

By Gareth MacDonald , 16-Nov-2010
Last updated the 16-Nov-2010 at 17:00 GMT

Biogen Idec has started shedding development programmes to stay in line with the restructuring plan and job cuts it announced earlier this month.

Spokeswoman Naomi Aoki told in-Pharmatechnologist that rights to the hyponatremia drug lixivaptanhave been returned to our partner Cardiokine who intends to continue to develop the drug” adding that efforts to license or spin out oncology projects are ongoing.

The moves are part of a $300m a year cost saving strategy that will see Biogen refocus on development of treatment for neurological disorders and multiple sclerosis (MS) and invest in personalized medicine development.

In all, Biogen plans to exit 11 programs, eliminate 650 full-time positions, approximately 13 per cent of its total workforce, close its plant in San Diego and consolidate facilities in eastern Massachusetts into those in Cambridge and Weston.

Speaking earlier this month, CEO George Scangos said: “We have been operating in too many therapeutic areas and haven't maximized our opportunities. We will now focus on a few areas where we can be among the best, and this starts with neurology.”

Scangos described the closing of Biogen Idec’s San Diego site as ‘especially painful’ as ‘it is the home of the original IDEC Pharmaceuticals and has played a fundamental role in the success of the company.’

Personalised meds

Biogen also plans to extend its involvement in personalised medicine for MS patients which offers ‘patients and their caregivers personalized treatment options that best match their needs.’

Aoki claimed that Biogen Idec already has “research efforts underway to try to better understand the risks and benefits of a particular therapy for a particular patient”.

We need to do more of that” she added, “from exploring biomarkers to neuroimaging to diagnostic tests…through our own research and development efforts but also through collaborations and partnerships with other scientists and companies.”

Other neurological diseases, such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Lou Gehrig's disease and Parkinson's disease will also be included in Biogen Idec’s leverage on neurology R&D.

Alongside advancements in neurology, Biogen Idec claims to be demonstrating expertise in hemophilia and immunology programs which are forecast to progress together with increased emphasis on biologics manufacturing.

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