Lilly launches new venture to market Xigris

What to do with an underperforming drug? If you're Eli Lilly, you start a new company to sell it. The Indianapolis-based company has licensed the U.S. rights to Xigris, a treatment for sepsis, to BioCritica, a brand-new company jointly owned by Lilly and two investment firms, the Indianapolis Business Journal reports. 

The problem with Xigris is that it's been a slow seller. Once tapped as a potential blockbuster, it racked up only $104 million in sales last year, down 18 percent from 2009. Now approved for treating severe sepsis in hospital patients--the only drug specifically approved for that use in the U.S.--Xigris has faced efficacy and safety questions, partly because doctors have had trouble determining which patients would benefit the most. BioCritica will focus on testing it for broader use, something Lilly wasn't ready to do; Xigris wasn't high on the company's priority list.

In the meantime, Xigris could get a boost from a trial now in process, says David Broecker, who's on board to head up the new company. Once a Lilly manufacturing executive and most recently CEO of Alkermes, Broecker figures his new efforts with Xigris might get a jump-start from the new data due out later this year. "We believe if it's favorable, it will allow us to go out and essentially re-energize the marketplace," Broecker told the IBJ.

BioCritica also plans to license and develop other critical-care drugs to build a stable of products and a pipeline of hopefuls. As part of its deal with Lilly, it has the rights to buy some of the company's in-development meds. A few Lilly employees will make the switch to BioCritica, which will build up to 20-25 employees by year's end and as many as 70 by 2015.

- see the release from Lilly
- read the IBJ story

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