Swiss biotech Actelion grabs rights to biologic in $68.5M deal

With plans to beef up its limited commercial offerings, Swiss biotech Actelion ($ATLN) has secured rights in certain countries to Auxilium's ($AUXL) biotech drug for treating tissue buildups under the skin, the companies reported yesterday. Auxilium gets $10 million upfront and could rake in up to $68.5 million in the deal via upfront, regulatory and sales milestone payments as the Malvern, PA-based company continues development of the drug.

Actelion, which is known for its best-selling drug Tracleer, has gained rights to Auxilium's drug Xiaflex in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Australia. The drug, which is not on the market in those four counties but has won FDA and European approval, is the first biologic to combat Dupuytren's contracture, which causes buildups of tissue under the skin of patients' palms, and Peyronie's disease, a condition that causes abnormally bent erections.

"Actelion and Auxilium have forged a partnership, which we believe has the opportunity to offer, subject to regulatory approval, the first, effective nonsurgical treatment for two diseases in multiple new geographies," said Adrian Adams, Auxilium's CEO, in a statement. "With the strength of Actelion's commercialization and development organization in these diverse and far-ranging markets, this relationship should further enhance our ability to bring this potentially groundbreaking product to a global audience."

Actelion could use some additional products to grow its income stream after heavy competition for Tracleer, a treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), ate into sales of the company's No. 1 moneymaker last year. The big news from Actelion is expected to come later this quarter when the company announces results of a late-stage trial for its next-gen PAH drug macitentan.

- here's the release