Dutch biotech Crucell has snapped up the Berna Products vaccine business from Acambis of the UK, winning marketing rights to an already-marketed oral typhoid vaccine, Vivotif, and a North American sales operation.
Acambis bought Berna Products in 2003 in order to bring in some near-term revenues from Vivotif sales and to have a commercial operation in place ready to launch Arilvax, a vaccine against yellow fever licensed from Chiron, as well as future travel vaccines. But the failure to win approval for Arilvax earlier this year meant that Berna was no longer a strategic asset for the UK company.
For Crucell, the new deal in a sense completes the acquisition of the Berna brand, as in February this year it bought Berna Biotech, the Swiss company that originally set up Berna Products in 1990.
Vivotif’s $13 million in sales in 2005, albeit at a time when rival vaccine Typhim Vi from Sanofi Pasteur was off the US market, adds to Crucell’s stable of four vaccines which had revenues of 21.5 million euros ($27m) in the first half of 2006.
Acambis said that the sale brings in cash that will help it advance products in its pipeline. The UK firm also got a $19 million windfall from Novartis last month in settlement of a suit which argued that Chiron, now owned by the Swiss pharma giant, had failed to do what was necessary to secure the vaccine’s approval, and so was in breach of its licensing agreement with Acambis.