Angiotech, Bard in graft, paclitaxel combination

Angiotech Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Vancouver, British Columbia, has entered into a license and development agreement with C.R. Bard Inc., New Providence, N.J., and Bard’s vascular graft subsidiary, IMPRA Inc., Tempe, Ariz.

The agreement provides for the use of paclitaxel and other related compounds for the perivascular treatment of restenosis associated with vascular surgery.

“Perivascular treatments represent a new approach to combating restenosis associated with vascular grafts,” says William L. Hunter, M.D., chairman and CEO of Angiotech. “The combination with Bard/IMPRA will allow us to expand local therapeutic approaches to vascular disease.”

For Bard, which recently sold the bulk of its troubled cardiovascular business and has refocused on growing businesses such as catheters (see related story, this page), the deal is a good mix with its IMPRA subsidiary.

“Angiotech’s proprietary perivascular technology may provide us with an opportunity to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from vascular disease by reducing the need for re-interventions following vascular surgery,” said IMPRA president John McDermott.

Angiotech is engaged in the development and commercialization of treatments for chronic inflammatory and angiogenesis-dependent diseases such as restenosis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.

The company’s initial technologies are based on the reformulation of paclitaxel into medical device coatings, systemic treatments and tropical gels.

A common occurrence

Restenosis, commonly associated with cardiovascular stent failure, does not only occur in areas of the heart. It can happen following any invasive surgical procedure where a blood vessel is injured, including synthetic and autologous graft implant where restenosis is the primary cause of long-term failure.

As an example, each year over 50% of hemodialysis patients with vascular access grafts (more than 200,000 patients in the U.S. alone) will require re-intervention to eliminate an obstruction associated with restenosis.

To reduce the incidence of restenosis following graft implantation, Angiotech has developed drug-loaded perivascular wraps. The wraps can be applied at all vascular graft implantation sites, allowing drug concentrations to remain highest in regions where biological activity is most needed.

Preclinical studies indicate the ability of the wraps to prevent restenosis.

IMPRA is a provider of products used in vascular surgery. The agreement with Angiotech anticipates that the perivascular wraps developed under the collaboration will have use with native or autologous grafts as well.

If so, the markets for the products would expand significantly.

Angiotech will receive upfront license fees, milestone payments and royalties, while both companies will make financial commitments to product development and will jointly develop the licensed products.

The firm has also entered into a co-exclusive license agreement with Boston Scientific Corp., Natick, Mass., and Cook Inc., Bloomington, Ind., for stent coatings and other endoluminal devices for the treatment of restenosis. r

C.R. Bard has shed itself of a business many say it pioneered back in the late 1970s and is heading in new directions, say industry observers of the 60-year-old medical device firm.

Bard’s fortunes took a critical turn in mid-1998 when it sold off the bulk of its troubled cardiovascular business, including its angioplasty unit, for $600 million.

By some accounts, Bard invented the angioplasty business in 1978. But the business required huge investments in research and development.

Along the way, three Bard executives were convicted in 1996 of concealing information about changes in heart catheters from the Food and Drug Administration. Those convictions are under appeal. Then the company was hit with severe sanctions when it changed a device’s design without informing the FDA.

The incidents were significant setbacks in Bard’s angioplasty business.

Following the sale, Bard has refocused itself on businesses such as urological catheters and peripheral vascular devices used in veins and arteries at a distance away from the heart.

Those are the devices that the company hopes, in tandem with Angiotech, will open new markets involving new technologies.

With the proceeds of the sale of its cardiovascular business, and a net $80 million collected from a patent lawsuit, Bard announced a buyback of 10 million shares of stock, of which the company says it has completed more than five million.

Analyst Matthew Dodd of Warburg Dillon Read was reported in the Wall Street Journal as expecting Bard earnings to jump more than 30% this year because of the changes in corporate emphasis.

Other analysts are not as optimistic. Bard is seen by some as shrinking its lines of business while other firms have been expanding, leading hospitals and GPOs looking for one-stop shopping for medical devices to turn in other directions.

But Bard has large market positions in its remaining businesses, proponents counter, strong enough to offset that industry trend.

COPYRIGHT 1999 J.B. Lippincott Company

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

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