Abraxis BioScience has followed the acquisition trail to South Africa and snapped up Shimoda Biotech, as well as its subsidiary, Platco Technologies.

Under the terms of the deal, Abraxis is making an initial upfront payment of $15 million, plus potential additional sums upon the achievement of specified milestones. Shimoda, which is located in Plettenberg Bay, specialises in combining off-patent molecules with a cyclodextrin drug delivery platform, while Platco is developing platinum-based anti-cancer drugs.

The major attraction that Shimoda offers is Dyloject, the world’s first solubilised intravenous formulation of the painkiller diclofenac. It was launched in December 2007 in the UK by licensee Javelin Pharmaceuticals which intends to file additional marketing applications in the European Union.

Phase III trials of Dyloject were initiated in the USA in the second half of 2006 and the results are expected in mid-2008. The potential in this particular market is considerable seeing as there is no IV diclofenac available in the USA, Abraxis noted.

Shimoda is also working on an oral tablet of diclofenac “for a wide range of acute pain indications” such as headache, migraine, sore throat and musculoskeletal pain and additional cyclodextrin-based candidates are at the pre-clinical stage. As for Platco, it has developed several next generation platinum-based anti-cancer compounds, which the firm says have shown promising pre-clinical results compared to currently marketed drugs.

Abraxis chief executive Patrick Soon-Shiong said that Shimoda and Platco are “valuable acquisitions” offering a revenue stream from Dyloject, a product pipeline based on its cyclodextrin delivery platform, and access to platinum-based compounds. The latter can expand the firm’s growing oncology franchise “and target global markets in excess of $2 billion”, he added.

At present virtually all of Abraxis’ revenues come from its taxane therapy Abraxane (albumin-bound paclitaxel) for metastatic breast cancer. Fourth-quarter revenues increased 58.1% to $88.8 million, a figure that will be boosted once the company launches Abraxane in Europe in the next few months.