By Brady Huggett
Antares Pharma Inc., a company founded by combining two similar methods of delivering drugs, scored its first major partnership by coupling with Pharmacia Corp.
The companies signed a license agreement for an undisclosed product using Antares¿ transdermal gel technology delivery system. Antares granted Pharmacia, of Peapack, N.J., exclusive rights for sales and marketing of the product for certain European territories.
Although financial details were not released and the actual product remains shrouded, Roger Harrison, Antares¿ CEO, said the deal contains the typical licensing fees, milestone payments and royalties on sales.
¿Pharmacia has asked us not to discuss specifics,¿ Harrison said. ¿But it is a product that is immediately available for registration and approval. I truly do believe this validates our gel technology for being competitive with transdermal patches.¿
The deal represents the first agreement for the young company and its biggest coup to date, Harrison said. It is also the way Antares plans to do business in the future.
¿This is the model we want to drive our company with,¿ Harrison said. ¿The interest of big pharma is what we want to achieve. As far as we are concerned, that is the critical part of our company.¿ Harrison added that Antares Pharma was ¿actively talking¿ to several potential partners.
Antares was formed in 2001 by the combination of Permatec Holding AG, located in Basel, Switzerland, and focused on transdermal drug delivery, and Medi-Ject Corp., located in Minneapolis, and focused on giving patients a better way to take injections. The first part of the name ¿ Antares ¿ was suggested by its founder and current chairman, Jacques Gonella, Harrison said. Ares was Greek mythology¿s God of War. Antares, then, is antiwar. In other words, the name means anti-killing, or healing.
Antares raised $7 million through a ¿first closing¿ private placement in February, then followed that by raising an additional $3 million from a single Swiss investor. The money has been used to further develop its drug delivery technologies.
It develops, commercializes and markets drug delivery solutions, including needle-free and mini-needle injector systems, gel technologies and transdermal products. It distributes its needle-free injector systems for the delivery of insulin and growth hormone in more than 20 countries and has several other products in development.
¿We¿ve got our injection-based platform that is needle free or mini needle,¿ Harrison said. ¿We have the gel platform for small molecules for transdermal medication.¿ Harrison added that with new materials and new packaging, the gel technologies can be competitive with other similar technologies, particularly patches.
Harrison said Antares is interested in the vaccine delivery market, depot delivery and acute delivery of large and small molecules with its mini-needle technology. The technologies have many applications, Harrison said.
¿Any drug that potentially is not well absorbed orally or is broken down through the first pass of the liver, we¿re interested in,¿ he said. ¿Anywhere a drug hasn¿t existed before because of the limitations of other delivery routes.¿
Antares¿ stock (NASDAQ:ANTR) fell 7 cents Tuesday, to close at $3.10.