|Thursday, 26 April 2007Nick Evans|
BIODIEM chief executive Tom Williams is feeling positive this week, after watching the $US15.2 billion takeover of MedImmune by Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca. Part of the value in MedImmune was its live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), FluMist, and according to Williams, BioDiem is the only other company around with an LAIV in development.
Although sales of FluMist haven't yet reached blockbuster status – around $US36 million in 2006, according to reports – there is no doubt that AstraZeneca sees them as part of the value for the company in the MedImmune purchase. In its statement on the takeover, AstraZeneca said that the sales from MedImmune's two "attractive marketed products", Synagis and FluMist, would add $US1.2 billion in sales to AstraZeneca's portfolio. The company said that the consensus sales growth for this portfolio is forecast to be around a 12% compound annual growth rate through to 2010.
While he isn't quite prepared to claim the entire $15 billion as the value in waiting for BioDiem, Williams is still upbeat about the sale price.
"We think the reflected valuation of MedImmune's FluMist, which is the only other live attenuated flu vaccine, should boost appreciation of the value of our vaccine, which is in preclinical development for manufacture in cell culture," said Williams.
BioDiem has licensed the majority of the international rights to the live attenuated inﬂuenza vaccine to Akzo Nobel's Nobilon, which is itself an acquisition target for US giant Schering-Plough.
Live attenuated vaccines use living, but weakened versions of a virus or germ to stimulate an immune response. The germs used in these vaccines are weakened (or attenuated) by cell culturing – growing them repeatedly under nourishing conditions in a lab. The process of growing a virus over and over again lessens the disease-causing ability of the virus. Vaccines are made from viruses whose disease-causing ability has deteriorated to the point of non-existence.
Existing influenza vaccines use dead bacteria or inactivated viruses to stimulate an antibody response in the body. With the exception of FluMist and BioDiem's LAIV, influenza vaccines previously in use have been of this variety.
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