• Advanced Life Sciences Holdings Inc., of Woodridge, Ill., said the FDA granted orphan drug designation to cethromycin for the prophylactic treatment of patients exposed to inhalation anthrax. Cethromycin is a second-generation ketolide antibiotic in Phase III development for treating respiratory tract infections. It also has demonstrated in vitro activity against more than 30 anthrax (Bacillus anthracis) strains, the company said. It has collaborations with U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for research and development of cethromycin against anthrax and other biowarfare agents.

• Biopartners Holdings AG, of Baar, Switzerland, was acquired by Bioton SA, of Warsaw, Poland, in a deal valued at about $77.8 million. Biopartners got 81.5 million Bioton shares, which were valued at about 183.4 million zlotys (US$62 million). Bioton also will pay off $15.8 million of BioPartners debt. The deal includes subsidiaries Biopartners GmbH in Switzerland and Biopartners GmbH in Germany. BioPartners is developing biogeneric agents, including human growth hormone and interferon beta products. Its operations were expected to continue without change and under the same management.

• Bioxel Pharma Inc., of Ste-Foy, Quebec, entered a three-year agreement to supply an unnamed medical device manufacturer with paclitaxel for use in drug-coated stents. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2007, and the device company plans to seek marketing authorizations for its paclitaxel-coated stent in various territories including Eastern Europe, Asia and South America.

• Cangene Corp., of Winnipeg, Manitoba, said Toronto-based Apotex Corp., its U.S. distributor for the FDA-approved hepatitis B vaccine HepaGam B, signed a distribution deal with Novation LLC, of Irving, Texas. Novation manages purchasing needs for nearly 2,500 healthcare organizations in the U.S. Novation will provide HepaGam B through its Novaplus Private Label Program, which provides members of Novation's alliances with commonly used pharmaceutical products.

• Critical Therapeutics Inc., of Lexington, Mass., signed a co-promotion agreement with DEY LP, an affiliate of Darmstadt, Germany-based Merck KGaA for the marketing of asthma drugs Zyflo (zileuton tablets) and zileuton CR, as well as a COPD drug developed by DEY that is currently under FDA review. Critical Therapeutics has obtained FDA approval for Zyflo and is expecting an FDA decision regarding zileuton CR May 31. The combined sales force will include 240 representatives, but additional terms of the deal were not disclosed. Shares of Critical Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CRTX) rose 40 cents, or 22.2 percent, on Wednesday to close at $2.20.

• Curis Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., selected the first development candidate, CUDC-101, from its Targeted Cancer Drug Development Platform. The platform entails covalently linking two active drug components, or pharmacophores. CUDC-101 is a small-molecule compound designed to inhibit the epidermal growth factor receptor. It also is directed against "Target A," an undisclosed target that will remain constant across the program. Investigational new drug application-enabling development is expected to begin soon, with an IND filing to follow in late 2007 or early 2008 if preclinical studies are successful.

• CytoDyn Inc., of Santa Fe, N.M., selected the Waisman Clinical BioManufacturing Facility at the University of Wisconsin at Madison to manufacture its DNA-based pre-flu vaccine. The preclinical vaccine, which is intended to enhance the effectiveness of flu vaccines, is slated for clinical trials beginning next year. CytoDyn gained the vaccine through its July 2006 acquisition of Advanced Influenza Technologies Inc.

• Neuromed Pharmaceuticals, of Vancouver, British Columbia, said it received a milestone payment of $2 million under its collaboration and license agreement with Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J. In March 2006, Neuromed and Merck entered a deal valued up to $475 million to research, develop and commercialize N-type calcium channel blockers for the treatment of pain and other disorders. The specific milestone trigger was not disclosed. (See BioWorld Today, March 26, 2006.)

• Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, terminated its September 2005 equity line of credit agreement with Cornell Capital Partners LP. The company entered the agreement to gain access to as much as $35 million in funding over a two-year period through the issuance of common stock. According to its SEC filing, Titan drew down a total of $4 million, issuing 3.1 million shares, but had not drawn down any funds within the last 12 months.

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