Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has signed a deal which will give it certain access to Cel-Sci Corp of the USA’s Multikine, the first immunotherapeutic agent being developed as a first-line standard of care treatment for cancer.

Teva has been granted an exclusive licence to market and distribute Multikine, a mixture of naturally-derived cytokines, for Israel and Turkey in a deal that is initially restricted to the areas of head and neck cancer. However, it has the right, subject to certain conditions, to extend the agreement, the financial details for which were not disclosed, to include other cancers and Multikine is thought to be potentially useful in treating many tumour types.

Also the Petach Tikva-headquartered firm will participate in Cel-Sci’s upcoming global 800-patient Phase III trial, providing funds and conducting part of the clinical study in Israel. Once Multikine has been approved, the US firm will be responsible for manufacturing the product, while Teva will be responsible for sales in Israel and Turkey. Revenues will be split 50/50.

Cel-Sci’s chief executive Geert Kersten said that Teva's expertise and knowledge “in successfully conducting large pivotal clinical trials and in developing markets for large unmet medical needs will prove invaluable in maximising Multikine's potential”. He added that his firm is retaining rights to market the drug in North America and Europe.

Phase II trials have shown MultiKine to be safe and well-tolerated, and to improve the patients' overall survival by 33% at three and a half years following surgery. The US Food and Drug Administration gave the go-ahead for the Phase III trial with Multikine in January 2007, granting it orphan drug status in May last year. Cel-Sci expects to finish construction of the manufacturing facility to produce Multikine for the trial soon.

Meantime rumours that Teva could be preparing a takeover bid for German generic drugmaker Stada Arzneimittel seem to have subsided. Last week, a report from Israel's Globes news service suggested that an offer could be made but analysts think any move for Stada is unlikely seeing as how Teva has only just announced its intention to acquire USA’s Barr Pharmaceuticals in a deal that is worth almost $9 billion.