Shire has signed up TAP Pharmaceutical Products to help sell its new bowel disorder drug Lialda.

The three-year agreement involves the co-promotion of Lialda (mesalamine) in the USA, which the UK-headquartered firm launched in the first quarter of 2007 as a treatment for active, mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis. Shire said it will compensate TAP based on the latter's success under the co-promotion pact.

The agreement will add more than 500 TAP sales representatives “to increase the reach and frequency” of the Shire sales force, which consists of about 120 reps. Together, the firms will “take this medicine to the next level", said Tim Rudolphi, vice president of TAP's gastroenterology marketing franchise. The link-up with Shire “is a natural fit for our sales force, and is a win for all involved”, he added.

TAP is a joint venture between Abbott Laboratories and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co but it was announced last week that that particular pact is to be dismantled after 30 years of business. Once the JV is dissolved, in the next month or so, the Japanese firm will take on the responsibility of promoting Lialda.

Analyst impressed by diversity of Shire’s portfolio
Meantime, Shire is the beneficiary of a positive analyst report issued by Jefferies & Co’s Robin Campbell who has reaffirmed her ‘buy’ rating on the stock.

The firm will soon be faced with the loss of patent protection on the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder drug Adderall XR (mixed amphetamine salts), and while that blow will be softened follow-up drug Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate), “the bigger picture for Shire is its developing product breadth, with a diverse array of discrete, orphan/specialty pharma opportunities," Ms Campbell wrote in an investors’ note.

The analyst highlighted Amigal (migalastat) for Fabry disease and Plicera (isofagomine) for Gaucher disease which are both being developed with Amicus Therapeutics. These and other products should “support the business through the uncertainty of Adderall XR generics in 2009”, she said.