The Wall Street Journal reports:
Drug Firms Buy $67.5 Million Voucher to Speed FDA Review
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. REGN +5.80% and Sanofi SA SAN.FR +3.52% are spending $67.5 million on a novel bet they hope will help them outflank Amgen Inc. AMGN +5.43% in the race to get a new class of cholesterol drugs to the market.
The companies are paying the money to acquire a special voucher held by BioMarin Pharmaceuticals Inc. in a bid to hasten regulatory review of their drug alirocumab, one of an emerging group of medicines that lower cholesterol by targeting a gene known as PCSK9.
BioMarin was awarded the voucher early this year as part of an incentive program established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to encourage development of drugs for rare pediatric diseases. The voucher entitles the holder to ask the FDA for priority review of a drug application that would otherwise get a standard review. That could shorten the review process to six months from the standard 10 months.
BioMarin received the voucher in conjunction with FDA approval of Vimizim, a treatment for a rare pediatric condition called Morquio A syndrome that afflicts about 800 patients in the U.S. While BioMarin could have used the voucher itself, the program also allows companies to sell a voucher to another company. The voucher doesn't need to be used on a drug for a rare pediatric condition.
The voucher was the first to be issued under the pediatric incentive program, and also the first to change hands.
The complete Wall Street Journal story can be found here.