Tel-Aviv, Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is shelling out $400 million for private US group CoGenesys, to buy itself a slice of the growing biotechnology market.

The group was attracted to CoGenesys’, a spin off of Human Genome Sciences, broad biotechnology platform for developing of peptide- and protein-based medicines across various therapeutic categories, that will help it gain a strong foothold in the biopharmaceuticals arena, which it recently identified as a “key, long-term growth opportunity”.

The acquisition gives the Israeli generic drugmaker access to a “world-class biotechnology research team”, “cutting edge” technologies and an “attractive innovative” pipeline, it claimed.

“Biopharmaceuticals will be a long-term growth driver for Teva, and this transaction represents an important spring-board in our efforts to establish ourselves among the leaders in this market,” added Shlomo Yanai, Teva's president and chief executive.

“CoGenesys' breadth of technologies and the depth of their team and pipeline complement Teva's large-scale operations, extensive resources and its proven expertise in bringing drugs to market. This combination will enable us to realise our vision of delivering high quality, affordable biopharmaceuticals worldwide”, he explained.

Dr Craig Rosen, CoGenesys' co-founder, Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Chairman, was equally positive about the move: “Teva's resources, its extensive clinical experience and regulatory expertise create the optimal environment for the CoGenesys team to continue and successfully commercialize our scientific work”.

The transaction has been given the green light by both companies’ boards of directors, and is expected to close during the first half of 2008 if all the usual closing conditions are satisfied.

Extends Protonix ceasefire
Meanwhile, Teva said it has come to an arrangement with US drug major Wyeth and its partner Altana Pharma AG under which it will delay selling its generic version of the antiulcerant Protonix (pantoprazole) until the end of the month.

The firm had begun shipping its copycat version of the blockbuster drug on December 21, but agreed to a temporary halt for 30 days just two days later to give the companies time to agree a settlement of the ongoing patent dispute. This ceasefire has now been extended until January 31.