Curis, Alkermes Down on News of Failed Pharma Partnerships

3/10/08

Shares of two Boston-area biotechs are down today after separately losing large agreements with pharmaceutical partners.

Curis (NASDAQ: CRIS) is looking for a new partner, the Cambridge, MA-based drug developer announced today, after the pharmaceutical giant Wyeth put an end to a four-year-old collaboration between the companies focused on treatments for stroke and cardiovascular disease. The agreement, which earned Curis an up-front fee of $3 million and could have been worth up to $170 million in research support and milestone payments, will terminate on May 6 of this year

In a press release, Curis President and CEO Daniel R. Passeri said that the company is still hopeful that drugs aimed at enhancing the action of so-called Hedgehog protein—which were the focus of the Wyeth collaboration—will prove valuable in treating neurological, cardiovascular, and bone disorders, as well as in aiding wound healing and hair growth.

Fellow Cambridge firm Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS), meanwhile, is “evaluating the impact” of Eli Lilly’s decision to end the companies’ joint effort to develop an inhaled insulin product, Alkermes announced late Friday. That agreement termination, which will be effective in 90 days, is perhaps unsurprising, given Pfizer’s move back in October to end marketing of a similar product, Exubera, due to poor sales. The Alkermes product is already in Phase 3 tests, which the company said (before the final decision from Eli Lilly was announced) will provide important data and ought to be completed.

Alkermes is trading this afternoon around $10.80, down from Friday’s open of $12.29. Curis is hovering just under $1.20, down from Friday’s close of $1.43.

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