30 April 2013Americas

Cyclacel sells cancer drug patents to Celgene

Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals has entered into a definitive agreement to sell four of its patents related to the use of the romidepsin injection to Celgene Corporation.

Cyclacel has received a one-off payment of $5.5 million for the patents.

The agreement renders the patent infringement case Celgene filed against Cyclacel at the US District Court for the District of Delaware in 2010 moot.

Romidepsin is an anticancer agent that operates under the trade name Istobax. It is currently undergoing clinical trials as a treatment for certain lymphomas and a variety of other cancers. The US Food and Drug Administration approved the drug in 2009. It has not been approved in the UK or EU.

The four patents, related to “therapeutic uses of depsipeptides and congeners thereof” and “depsipeptide and congeners thereof for use as immunosuppressants,” were filed between 2000 and 2004 by Xcyte Therapies, which completed a reverse merger with Cyclacel in 2005.

“We are pleased to enter into this agreement with Celgene,” Cyclacel chief executive Spiro Rombotis said. “The dismissal of the litigation will allow Cyclacel to concentrate on the development of our pipeline to benefit the patients we serve.”

Jason Rutt, partner at Rouse in London, said that the decision looks “sensible” on all sides, and marginally favours Celgene.

“Cyclacel had toughed it out and didn’t fold under pressure, and instead raised money to defend its IP,” he said. “The US litigation had reached a pivotal stage. Judgement endorsing the Cyclacel construction of the patent claims would have placed them in a very strong position.”

He said Celgene has avoided high litigation costs and “de-risked” the patent position around Romidepsin by taking away the uncertainty associated with the litigation.

“It stops someone with deeper pockets buying Cyclacel and continuing the litigation,” he said. “I understand Cyclacel have further patents pending that also covered Romidepsin in combination with other drugs. This must make it easier for Celgene to do a deal with Cyclacel around that IP.”

He said Cyclacel would have withstood pressure to get $5.5 million for the patents, though the sum seems low considering Romidepsin may make the company more than $80 million a year.

“Perhaps they should have got more but sounds like they ran out of cash, nerve or found it a distraction to a small biotech. It will be intriguing to see what Cyclacel does with its other IP that covers Romidepsin in combination,” he added.

The recordal of the patent assignment could take place in a matter of weeks.

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