British biotechs unveil new partnership deals

THE RECOVERY of the UK biotechnology sector continued yesterday as two companies unveiled major partnerships.

Vanguard Medica, the pounds 80m migraine and psoriasis researcher, has secured an agreement with Menarini, a privately owned Italian company, to distribute its frovatriptan treatment for acute migraine in Europe. Meanwhile SkyePharma, which is capitalised at pounds 283m and modifies other company's drugs, has struck a deal with SmithKline Beecham to tweak its Requip treatment for Parkinson's disease.

Frovatriptan is expected to be launched in Europe by next June, with the US launch following shortly afterwards.

SkyePharma's tie-up with SmithKline sees it receiving milestone payments and royalties, along with an $8m investment in SkyePharma's equity. SkyePharma is to transform Requip from a three-times-a-day to a once- daily treatment.

Vanguard's shares closed up 7.5p at 242.5p. SkyePharma closed 2.5p ahead at 60p.

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