Switzerland’s Basilea Pharmaceutica will step out of the lab and hit the

commercial route to co-promote its lead product with US giant Johnson &


The Basel-based group has exercised an option to co-promote ceftobiprole,

its cephalosporin antibiotic against the superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) with J&J affiliate Cilag in North America and major European countries. The treatment has received fast-track status from the US Food and Drug Administration, and results from a second Phase III study in skin infections are expected in the first half of 2007.

In preparation for a launch, Basilea is looking to set up its own sales force, which it will employ to promote two other late-stage products. First up is alitretinoin, a synthetic retinoid drug for patients with severe dermatitis of the hand who do not respond to topical corticosteroid treatment; a first regulatory filing is expected next year followed by a potential launch in 2008.

The new field force could also be used to promote another fast-track product, the antifungal isavuconazole, which could be used in conjunction with ceftobiprole and will enter Phase III this month.

Nicholas Benedict, head of commercial strategy and operations at Basilea,

said: “We intend to build a dynamic, effective sales and marketing

organisation,” and the most suitable structure for that is currently being


Basilea’s decision to sell its own products went down well with analysts,

and Morgan Stanley said: “we view it as a positive move for the