Brazil to join ranks of Gaucher's drug makers

In a shot across Genzyme's damaged bow, Protalix and Pfizer are aligning with Brazil in a licensing deal for taliglucerase alfa, a treatment for Gaucher's disease. The Brazilian health minister says the country will invest $730 million to equip itself to produce the drug in a new Rio de Janeiro factory.

Pfizer teamed with Protalix in December 2009 to develop and commercialize the drug, which is produced through the Protalix ProCellex plant-based protein expression system. That same month, Protalix submitted an FDA application to market its new treatment for the disease, in light of dwindling supplies of Genzyme's treatment due to major manufacturing difficulties. Shortly thereafter, Shire joined the fray by producing late-stage data for its Gaucher's treatment.

The $730 million Brazilian investment in the five-year licensing deal corresponds with its spend estimate for treating Gaucher's patients over the same period. Plus it provides the country with new technology. The figure represents the total Brazilian investment for production of the drug, not just licensing fees.

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