Genzyme is jumping into the multiple sclerosis market with both feet. The company has inked a deal with Bayer Healthcare for the right to transform the leukemia therapy Campath into a multiple sclerosis treatment. The smaller company will pay up to $1.25 billion to develop and commercialize Campath for MS, and for rights to two other cancer remedies, Fludara and Leukine.
Bayer and Genzyme had already been working together on Campath, but now, Genzyme will have the marketing rights that had been Bayer's. The German firm will continue to pay one-third of the development costs.
This is a big step for Genzyme--a step away from its current strategy of targeting rare disorders with ultra-expensive drugs. By moving toward treatments for more common diseases, Genzyme could not only join the drugmaker mainstream but reduce its dependence on high prices at a time when the new U.S. administration is zeroing in on healthcare cost-cutting. Plus, as the Wall Street Journal points out, lawmakers are aiming to usher to market less-expensive copycats of the sorts of biotech meds Genzyme makes.
"On the MS side, this allows us to gain access to a large and growing market," Mark Enyedy, chief of Genzyme's oncology and multiple-sclerosis businesses, told the paper. If approved by the FDA, Campath is expected to hit the market in 2012.