Crucell plots major boost in R&D spending

In the course of reporting its fourth quarter earnings, Dutch biotech Crucell said that it plans to boost R&D spending by a third in 2010. That's following a big year in 2009, during which the company landed a $70 million contract with NIAID/NIH to develop infectious disease vaccines. That deal was followed up in September of 2009 with Johnson & Johnson's purchase of an 18 percent stake in Crucell for $443.5 million.

Crucell, which hired 120 people last year, said it's using the J&J funding to significantly up its R&D spending, which amounted to spent €70.2 million last year. That additional cash will go to advancing its clinical product pipeline. Additionally, the company's strong cash position has led to speculation that Crucell will make acquisitions to keep pace with rivals like Sanofi's Shantha Biotech and Panacea Biotech. "If we would make an acquisition, it would be of a profitable product or products that are very close to being launched on the market rather than a pipeline product," Crucell CEO Ronald Brus told reporters, according to Reuters.

- here's Crucell's release
- check out this Reuters article for more