Cardiome Repays Merck Debt, Isis Partners with AstraZeneca: Healthcare Business Recap

In a Tuesday release, Cardiome Pharma Corporation (NASDAQ:CRME) said that it has reached an agreement with Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) to resolve  its debt obligations originating with the parties’ collaboration and license agreement for vernakalant, made in April 2009. Through the terms, the former  will pay Merck $20 million on or before March 31st to settle its outstanding debt of $50 million owed to the latter. The payment will be made from Cardiome’s existing cash balance which stood at $53.6 million at the end of September. Pursuant to the vernakalant partner agreement, Merck had granted Cardiome an interest-bearing credit facility of as much as $100 million.

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Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ISIS) has reached an arrangement with the United Kingdom drugmaker AstraZeneca Group (NYSE:AZN) through which to develop its novel technology against five cancer targets. In return for $31 million in upfront and near-term payments to Isis, AstraZeneca will co-develop four oncology research programs and obtain the rights for the development and commercialization of a drug that is currently in early trials for patients suffering from advanced lymphomas. Isis’s antisense therapies work by destroying the RNA that forms the proteins involved in disease processes.

Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG) repots that its experimental medicine for multiple myeloma helped fight the cancer when other therapies failed. Patients receiving Celgene’s pomalidomide along with a low dose of the steroid dexamethasone lived a median 3.6 months without their disease worsening, contrasted with 1.8 months for patients taking a high dose of the steroid alone, said data presented at the meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Atlanta on Tuesday. Pomalidomide also assisted with overall survival. Celgene is the world’s fourth-largest biotech firm.

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