Serono Expands in MS
Serono's in-licensing deal with Amgen for marketed multiple sclerosis drug mitoxantrone (Novantrone) is the Swiss group's latest move to broaden its MS franchise, currently dominated by interferon beta-1a (Rebif). Novantrone gives Serono a second marketed product in a market where competition--already hot--may soon get even hotter.
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Analysts generally expressed the view that Pfizer and Serono will both benefit from their agreement to co-promote the multiple sclerosis drug, Rebif. But some question whether the sales and marketing boost Pfizer will give the specialty drug justifies its $200 million upfront payment, or, for that matter, the estimated 35%-40% commission on sales that Serono will be required to pay Pfizer.
Serono, Europe's biggest biotechnology company, is nearly one hundred years old. Recently, the company has been on a quest to establish a public image quite different from that of a traditional, family-owned pharmaceutical group. Driving Serono into the public eye is Ernesto Bertarelli, who took the helm from his father in 1996. The structural changes he brought about provided the framework for modernization. But Serono still has to make its mark in the US, where the most important determinant of success will be the timing of its launch of Rebif, its multiple sclerosis drug.
Senexis Ltd. spun-out of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology to develop novel therapeutics and diagnostics for currently incurable aging-related disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and type 2 diabetes. In addition to being more prevalent in the older population, these diseases also share a similar underlying etiology; they are all associated with amyloidosis.