Ipsen, insolvent biotech partner find buyer for troubled hemophilia drug

Ipsen is closing a tumultuous foray into the hemophilia area. With its broke biotech partner Inspiration Biopharmaceuticals, Ipsen ($IPN) has agreed to sell a hemophilia drug candidate placed on clinical hold by the FDA last year to Cangene in a deal worth up to $55.9 million in upfront and commercial milestone money.

Cangene is forking over $5.9 million initially for the hemophilia B candidate IB1001, which U.S. regulators placed on clinical hold in July after patients in a late-stage clinical trial had developed antibodies against proteins from Chinese hamster ovary cells used to manufacture the recombinant factor IX treatment. The Canadian biotech is expected to pay up to $50 million more in commercial milestones to Inspiration and Ipsen, the main backer of the program since its partnership with Inspiration began in 2010.

Paris-based Ipsen and Inspiration, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in October, have now struck deals to unload the two lead hemophilia drugs from their collaboration, including one for a hemophilia A candidate called OBI-1 with Baxter International valued at $185 million in upfront and goal-based payments. Baxter is also taking over a Milford, MA, production plant from Ipsen and Inspiration.

Since Inspiration filed for bankruptcy protection last year, Ipsen has backed the Cambridge, MA-based biotech with $23.6 million in debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing to keep its partner afloat amid efforts to sell its assets. Ipsen expects to cover the DIP amount with its share of upfront payments from the two asset sales with Baxter and Cangene, and French biotech may take a 100 million euro impairment charge for the hemophilia assets such as convertible bonds used to finance the collaboration and its investment in the Milford plant.

A Boston bankruptcy sale is due to have a hearing today to consider approval of the asset sale to Cangene. Ipsen aims to get out of hemophilia via the Chapter 11 process, and it appears that this latest deal puts it one step closer to accomplishing that goal. From here, Ipsen can only hope that Baxter and Cangene succeed with their own efforts to advance the therapies against the bleeding disorders, as milestone payments from the deals depend on approvals of the drugs.

- here's the release

Special Report: Inspiration Biopharmaceuticals - The 2012 Biotech Graveyard

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