Organon, the healthcare unit of Akzo Nobel which is in the process of being acquired by Schering-Plough, has entered into a deal with the USA’s Medarex to develop and commercialise fully human antibody therapeutics for the treatment of cancer and auto-immune disorders.

Under the terms of the agreement, financial details of which were not disclosed, the firms plan to share development responsibilities, and revenues, on any products resulting from this collaboration, which will use Medarex’s UltiMAb human antibody development system and “Organon’s expertise in drug discovery and development”.

The latter firm’s executive vice president of R&D, David Nicholson, said that Organon has recently increased its efforts in Cambridge, Massachussetts, to identify novel biologicals which will be effective treatments for auto-immune and oncological disorders. He added that the collaboration with Medarex “represents a further step towards becoming a very effective biological drug hunting company”.

Organon also announced today that it has completed recruitment for both pivotal Phase IIIa trials for Nomac/E2, its novel oral contraceptive containing natural estrogen, which means that the development programme is on track for file submission in 2009.

Dr Nicholson said the studies, which involve over 4,400 women “are the largest trials in contraception that Organon has ever undertaken, and the most demanding in terms of outcomes investigated.” The firm was granted development and marketing rights of Nomac/E2 in 2005 by Laboratoire Théramex, an affiliate of Germany’s Merck KGaA.