ILEX Oncology Inc.'s Campath now is firmly in the hands of Schering AG, as the companies decided to give the German firm the territories it needed for complete worldwide rights.

ILEX, of San Antonio, and Schering, of Berlin, agreed for Schering to develop, sell and distribute Campath - a humanized monoclonal antibody approved for B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients who have been treated with alkylating agents and have failed fludarabine treatment - in Japan, China and the Asian Pacific Basin.

The companies did not disclose financial details, but ILEX will receive an up-front payment and could receive milestone and royalty payments. With the deal done, Schering now has worldwide rights to the product.

Campath (alemtuzumab) was originally licensed to Schering AG in 1999 in a deal valued at up to $30 million, giving Schering rights in all areas except Japan and East Asia. Berlex Laboratories Inc., Schering's U.S. affiliate, handles marketing in The States. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 25, 1999.)

Approved in the U.S. in the spring of 2001, Campath was first developed by ILEX and LeukoSite Inc., of Cambridge, Mass. Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., also of Cambridge, purchased LeukoSite in 1999 and thus acquired its share of Campath. The product was then developed in a 50-50 joint venture by ILEX and Millennium until Millennium sold its share back to ILEX in the fall of 2001 for about $140 million. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 31, 2001.)

With the product having gone full circle - partnered, developed, approved and then sold back - ILEX signed Schering to take care of Campath worldwide, prompting ILEX President and CEO Jeff Buchalter to say in a prepared release, "Schering AG's strong presence in Asia and its strategic interest in bringing new products to this market will give Campath the basis to be successfully marketed worldwide."

ILEX's stock (NASDAQ:ILXO) fell 39 cents Wednesday to close at $7.02.