Alkermes, Elan deal forms well-positioned drug delivery company

Elan Drug Technologies' merger with Alkermes seems to be a good thing all around for the future of both their drug-delivery technologies. Just to recap: For the past decade or so, EDT has been working on, and perfecting, its NanoCrystal technology, which essentially is a milling technique that breaks down drug crystal sizes to less than 2,000 nanometers. This seemingly small, simple solution addresses at least one major problem facing the pharmaceutical industry today: Poor solubility of drugs.

Elan says its NanoCrystal technology is currently used in five commercialized products, including Invega Sustenna, an extended-release injectable suspension for schizophrenia approved by the FDA a year ago and marketed by Janssen in the United States.

Meanwhile, Alkermes' expertise lies in its long-acting injectable drugs, even though it suffered a setback late last year with the FDA rejection of the diabetes drug Bydureon, which it developed with Eli Lilly and Amylin. It was Alkermes' drug-delivery technology that drove Bydureon, although it was not clear whose technology, exactly, was responsible for the possible irregular heartbeats that caused the drug's rejection. Vivitrol, which treats alcohol dependence, also employs Alkermes' drug delivery technology.

As Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News points out, the new supersized Alkermes "will start life with 25 commercialized products, pro forma annual revenues of some $450 million, and a strong CNS-focused pipeline of in-house and partnered products in clinical development."

Not a bad way for a drug-delivery business to begin, anyway.

- check out the Elan release
- read more about EDT's NanoCrystal technology
- more on Alkermes' drug-delivery technology here
- and news on the merger from Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News