Lilly buys rights to drug delivered through skin

Eli Lilly and Co. will pay $35 million for rights to an osteoporosis medicine delivered through the skin, the Indianapolis drugmaker announced today.

Lilly has signed a licensing and development agreement with Israel-based TransPharma Medical Ltd. for exclusive rights to its ViaDerm-hPTH product and non-exclusive rights to its drug-delivery system, which delivers medicine through a patch on the skin.

The deal must receive approval from trade regulators, but Lilly expects it to close in June or July. When it does, Lilly will record a charge of 2 cents per share.

“This agreement expands the scope of our osteoporosis program with a novel, patient-centered approach that builds upon our success with Evista and Forteo,” said Dr. Gwen Krivi, vice president of Lilly Research Labs, in a statement.

TransPharma’s medicine is now in Phase 2 clinical testing, and Lilly will help TransPharma pay to finish that stage. Lilly will then pay for any further testing and for bringing any through-the-skin medicine to market.

Along the way, Lilly agreed to pay TransPharma as the development of ViaDerm-hPTH achieves certain milestone goals. If ViaDerm becomes a commercial product, Lilly will pay TransPharma royalties based on sales.

In 2007, Lilly osteoporosis drugs Evista and Forteo racked up $1.8 billion in sales, a 10-percent increase over the previous year.

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