24 March 2003 00:00 [Source: ICB Americas]Novartis has snared Pfizer Inc.'s investigational incontinence drug Enablex (darifenacin) at what is generally considered to be an enormous bargain. Pfizer was forced to divest the product to gain regulatory approval for its pending acquisition of Pharmacia Corp., which sells the competing drugs Detrol (tolterodine tartrate) and Detrol LA.
Novartis will pay up to $225 million for the drug, depending on the achievement of marketing approvals in the US and Europe. A new drug application was filed for the product in December 2002, which, if approved, would put Enablex in US pharmacies as early as 2004.
Enablex is an M3 antagonist, acting to selectively block the M3 cholinergic receptor involved in the control of bladder muscle contraction. Novartis sees the global overactive bladder market as growing by 30 percent annually. Peak sales of the drug are expected to top $1 billion.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which is facing major gaps in its portfolio starting as early as 2004, was considered the lead suitor for the product. However, some analysts believe Pfizer may have struck a deal with Novartis because, with a much smaller sales force than GSK, the company may not prove as tough a competitor for the Detrol products, which had sales of $757 million last year.
The sale clears the way for closure of the Pfizer/Pharmacia deal, which is now expected in April.
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