• Altana AG, of Bad Homburg, Germany, completed the €4.6 billion (US$6.1 billion) sale of Altana Pharma AG and its entire pharmaceuticals business to Nycomed A/S, of Roskilde, Denmark. The pharmaceutical divestiture ends the company's involvement in two areas of business, which focused on gastrointestinal and respiratory therapeutics, and going forward, it will focus on specialty chemicals.

• Encysive Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Houston, said the FDA accepted for review the company's complete response to the July 24, 2006, approvable letter for Thelin (sitaxsentan sodium) 100-mg tablets in pulmonary arterial hypertension. The agency issued a new PDUFA data of June 15, 2007. (See BioWorld Today, July 26, 2006.)

• InterMune Inc., of Brisbane, Calif., filed a $175 million universal shelf registration statement with the SEC to occasionally sell common or preferred stock, debt securities and warrants. The nature and terms of any offering will be established at the time of sale, and proceeds would be used for general corporate purposes such as funding research and development, increasing working capital, reducing debt, acquisitions or investments and capital expenditures. As part of the filing, Warburg, Pincus Equity Partners LP registered its nearly 7.4 million previously issued common shares for sales from time to time, though InterMune would not receive any of those proceeds.

• Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., successfully completed the acquisition of RNAi company, Sirna Therapeutics Inc., of San Francisco, in a cash transaction estimated at $1.1 billion. The pharma firm announced plans to acquire Sirna in late October for $13 per share, a 100 percent premium. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 1, 2006.)

• Neose Technologies Inc., of Horsham, Pa., said the clinical development of GlycoPEG-GCSF would continue under an existing collaboration agreement with BioGeneriX AG, of Mannheim, Germany. In addition, BioGeneriX will assume Neose's cost of reagent supply. Neose is retaining marketing rights to GlycoPEG-GCSF in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Japan. At the same time, BioGeneriX declined to exercise its option to license Neose's GlycoPEGylation technology for use with a GlycoPEGylated erythropoietin made in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells (GlycoPEG-CHO-EPO). As a result, all rights to the GlycoPEGylation technology as it applies to GlycoPEG-CHO-EPO revert to Neose.

• NovaDel Pharma Inc., of Flemington, N.J., closed a $14 million financing through the private equity sale of about 9.8 million common shares to new and existing investors, as well as warrants. They purchased the shares at $1.45 apiece and received 0.4 warrants per share with an exercise price equal to $1.70 each. The warrants will not be exercisable until the six-month anniversary of the date of issuance and will expire five years later. Participants included Heights Capital, Henderson Global Management, ProQuest Investments, William Harris Investors and other institutional investors. Oppenheimer & Co. acted as the placement agent and led the transaction for the drug delivery firm, while Griffin Securities Inc. was the co-placement agent.

• Nuvo Research Inc., of Mississauga, Ontario, said the FDA issued an approvable letter for Pennsaid (1.5% w/w diclofenac sodium solution), a topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory for osteoarthritis of the knee. The agency indicated that Pennsaid is approvable subject to Nuvo satisfying certain conditions, though the company provided no specifics. Nuvo plans to soon meet with the FDA to discuss the letter. Before filing for approval last summer, the company completed a Phase III trial in 775 patients to meet clinical efficacy and safety requirements mandated in a 2002 non-approvable letter.

• Oscient Pharmaceuticals Corp., of Waltham, Mass., amended its license and option agreement for the antibiotic Factive (gemifloxacin) with LG Life Sciences Ltd., of Seoul, South Korea, to add several European countries to the arrangement so that all current European Union members are included. The amendment also restructures the economic terms relating to Factive sales in Europe, including a reduction in royalty rates on future sales to enable maximum investment in the brand through a potential European partnership. The license now covers more than 40 countries in Europe, including all of the members of the European Union. The drug is not yet approved for use in Europe.

• ProMetic Life Sciences Inc., of Montreal, raised about C$17.1 million (US$14.7 million) in gross proceeds after closing of two tranches of financing with a combination of American and Canadian institutional investors. In one transaction, the biopharmaceutical company directly issued about 36.6 million subordinate voting shares at C25 cents apiece for about C$9.1 million, and in the other deal issued about 28.6 million shares at C28 cents each for C$8 million under an agency agreement between Paradigm Capital Inc. and ProMetic. Leerink Swann & Co. acted as ProMetic's financial advisor.

• Xenomics Inc., of New York, closed a $1 million private placement through the sale of 1 million common shares and 500,000 warrants to an unnamed overseas institutional investor. The warrants are immediately exercisable for a period of six months from the date of issuance at $1.25 apiece. The proceeds will be directed toward the company's efforts to develop diagnostic tests for a range of diseases and genetic conditions and to fund preparations for regulatory approval and commercialization.