Celltech seeks partner to finance development of new asthma drug

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The Independent Online
SEVERAL large pharmaceutical companies are showing enormous interest in a new asthma drug developed by Celltech, the biotechnology company claimed yesterday.

Celltech is confident that in the next few months it will secure a large and important deal with a bigger partner which will agree to finance the later stage development of the drug. The eventual development costs are likely to exceed dollars 100m.

Peter Fellner, chief executive, said a test on healthy subjects showed the company's CDP840 was well absorbed and did not cause nausea or cardiovascular problems, the side effects associated with some rival treatments.

CDP840 is intended to tackle mild or moderate asthma, which represents about four- fifths of the dollars 4.5bn asthma market. Celltech recognises it will need a large partner to market the product to general practitioners and intends to give up the worldwide rights.

The company's first results since coming to the stock market last December show a virtually unchanged interim loss of pounds 4.4m in the six months to 31 March. Its research and development spending rose from pounds 6.9m to pounds 7.8m.

Celltech received another pounds 1.5m from Bayer, its partner on the rheumatoid arthritis product. Bayer has made total milestone payments of pounds 9.5m out of a possible pounds 26m.