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Altana Signs Up Pharmacia

Executive Summary

Despite having little or no presence in the respiratory market, Pharmacia fought off Novartis, Roche and Aventis to win worldwide marketing right to Altana's roflumilast for COPD and asthma--a drug that could become a blockbuster. Altana reckons that Pharmacia, with no similar products of its own that might compete for attention, is strongly committed to roflumilast's success.

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Boehringer Ingelheim's new COPD treatment, Spiriva, could be a blockbuster--particularly if its worldwide marketing partner Pfizer can increase diagnosis of the disease and expand COPD drugs' prescribing base from specialists to GPs. But, complicating matters for Boehringer, Pfizer--through its proposed acquisition of Pharmacia--will also market the PDE-4 inhibitor roflumilast, Altana's next-generation COPD therapy.

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Mid-size European companies look to boost US sales efforts.

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The success of gastrointestinal drug pantoprazole has turned mid-sized Altana into one of Europe's fastest growing pharmaceutical companies. By re-investing the proceeds from pantoprazole into its own R&D, Altana now has two late-stage follow-ons--ciclesonide and roflumilast--with similar potential to pantoprazole. Rather than simply out-licensing these compounds to larger players, Altana wants a more active role alongside its partners in marketing and selling its own drugs, hoping thereby to establish itself internationally.

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