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Lantheus buys worldwide rights to Ablavar

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | July 13, 2010
Ablavar could be
for sale again
in Europe.
Lantheus picked up worldwide rights for MRI contrast agent Ablavar, the company said Monday morning.

Lantheus, which since 2009 had rights to sell the gadolinium-based contrast agent in North America and Australia, acquired the remaining rights through an auction of outstanding assets held by Epix Pharmaceuticals. Epix developed the drug, but went into liquidation in 2009, Lantheus said. Terms of the deal were not announced.

The drug helps doctors use MRI scans to better image blood vessels to diagnose a type of blocked artery condition, called aortoiliac occlusive disease, in adults with perihperhal vascular disease.

"Strategically, for us, it's an extremely valuable acquisition," Dr. Mark Hibberd, Lantheus' senior medical director with global medical affairs, told DOTmed News. "It's a unique compound and has properties which physicians have grown used to in European and other countries during the time it was sold by Bayer Schering."

Previously, Bayer Schering held European Union and other European and Asian distribution rights for Ablavar, originally marketed under the name Vasovist. In March 2009, Bayer returned the rights to Epix, N. Billerica-based Lantheus said.

The company is not sure when it will be able to return the drug to the European market.

"That's not easy to say with any certainty," Hibberd said. "We'll have to go through the regulatory process, with all of the name switching and labeling updates that would be necessary, and make arrangements for distribution, sales and marketing. It won't be this year before we get all that done."

Lantheus debuted Ablavar, dubbed MS-325 by Epix, in the United States in January. Epix received U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the product in 2008, but was unable to bring the drug to market, Lantheus said.

Epix held the auction, in which two experimental MR contrast agents were also up for sale, June 22, Lantheus said.