Washington Editor

Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. acquired the worldwide rights to develop and commercialize iloperidone, Titan's antipsychotic agent in Phase III clinical development for the treatment of schizophrenia and related disorders.

Vanda acquired the rights from Novartis Pharma AG and will pursue completion of the iloperidone Phase III program and product registration.

Vanda, of Rockville, Md., was founded by its chairman, Argeris Karabelas, former CEO of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, and its CEO, Mihael Polymeropoulos, former vice president of pharmacogenetics at Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

Titan's rights and economic interests in iloperidone, including royalties on sales, remain unchanged under the license agreement, the South San Francisco-based company said. Company representatives could not be reached for comment.

Titan acquired an exclusive worldwide license to iloperidone from Aventis SA, of Strasbourg, France, in January 1997. In November of that year, Titan sublicensed the drug to Novartis, of Basel, Switzerland, giving Novartis rights to continue development of the drug on its own.

A Titan 10-K filing from 2001 said the agreement with Novartis required Novartis to pay milestone payments to Aventis for Titan as long as the agreement was in place. Also, Novartis would pay to Aventis and Titan royalties on future net sales with a net royalty of 8 percent on the first $200 million of sales annually and 10 percent on all sales of more than $200 million each year.

The partners faced a few problems beginning in 2001, when they delayed potential regulatory filing by a year, citing the need for additional trials. (See BioWorld Today, July 25, 2001.)

A year after that, Titan's stock tanked 58.1 percent, or $2.23, when results of a cardiac safety study revealed that the candidate's opportunity as a first-line therapy for schizophrenia could be limited. (See BioWorld Today, July 23, 2002.)

Titan's stock (AMEX:TTP) Wednesday fell 5 cents to close at $3.55.