Recordati has bagged the European rights to market an investigational leukaemia drug that has been developed by French firm Erytech Pharma.

The compound in question is Graspa, a new formulation of L-asparaginase which Recordati says has a "safer and broader range of clinical use than existing forms due to the entrapment and protection of the enzyme inside homologous red blood cells". The Milan-headquartered group says that the added value of Graspa relates to its "longer efficacy, better compliance, reduced doses and a better safety profile".

The drug is in a Phase II/III trial for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and will shortly go into a Phase IIb study for acute myeloid leukaemia. Graspa holds orphan designation in Europe and the USA for the former disease.

Specifically, the deal has been done by Recordati's Orphan Europe subsidiary and its chief executive Marco Ligouri said his team has considerable experience in "the special requirements of rare diseases". His counterpart at Erytech, Pierre-Olivier Goineau, noted that the Lyon-based company will manufacture the product, adding that the agreement is "a clear recognition of the potential of our technology. It will allow us to focus on our developments in the USA, in solid tumours and in other rare disease indications".

Russian deal completed

Recordati has been boosting its portfolio of late and has just finalised the acquisition of five product ranges of over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements from Russia's Akvion.

The brands "are very well known in Russia", noted Recordati and include Alfavit, which comprises "a wide range of formulations containing vitamins and minerals and holds a leading position on the market". Total annual sales of the five products are around 1.00 billion rubles (about $32.2 million) and Recordati is paying out 2.7 billion rubles to get hold of them.

Last month, Recordati expanded its non-pharma offerings by buying the Dentosan oral care range, best-known for its mouthwashes, from Johnson & Johnson.