Aventis inks deal with Regeneron for collaboration on cancer therapy

Aventis said that it has entered a partnership with the biotech firm Regeneron to develop an early-stage cancer treatment, news sources report.

VEGF Trap, a vascular endothelial growth factor antagonist, is currently in Phase I testing. Aventis has given Regeneron an upfront payment of $80 million cash and has taken a $45 million stake in the biotech. Regeneron will also receive an early milestone payment of $25 million and another $360 million for marketing approvals in the U.S. and Europe. Aventis is also footing the bill for the remaining development of the drug. However, 50 percent of those costs will be refunded to Aventis by Regeneron if the drug becomes profitable.

Some analysts see this as a risky deal for Aventis, considering the early stage of the drug, a news source reports. "Also, it doesn't solve Aventis' more immediate problem of filling its late-stage pipeline before generic competitors erode sales of its top-selling drugs," the same news source says.

Building its pipeline is important for Aventis. By 2005, the French drugmaker's Lovenox and Allegra will face generic competition. Aventis has three drugs on tap for which it plans to file with regulators by year's end -- Alvesco, an asthma inhaler, Genasense, a cancer therapy, and Menactra, a vaccine for meningococcal meningitis.

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