Nektar optimistic despite Exubera fallout

By Pete Mansell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nektar Pfizer

The CEO of Californian company Nektar Therapeutics says that 2007
has been key in transforming the company into a fully integrated
drug development organisation, despite the setback with Pfizer's
inhaled insulin product Exubera.

Speaking on the recent fourth quarter earnings call, which saw Nektar report an annual operating loss of $36.1m down from a deficit of $159.2m the previous year, Howard Robin said that the firm had made a series of critical structural changes, pipeline expansions and had entered into several new partnership agreements and was positioned for a " great 2008 ."

Mr Robin went on to cite the firm's pulmonary and PEGylated therapeutics technologies as the foundations of its ongoing performance, explaining that: " every PEGylated therapeutic approved in the last 10 years was enabled by Nektar's technology and many of the most innovative inhaled therapeutics and development are based on Nektar's pulmonary technology ."

He went on to say that the platforms have been leveraged to "[create] a partnered pipeline revenue stream of potentially more than $400m by the end of 2012."

This pipeline includes PEGylation drug development partners like Roche for Mircera (methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta), UCB for Cimzia (certolizumab pegol), Affymax and Takeda for Hematide, and on the pulmonary side, it includes Bayer for both NKTR-061 (inhaled amikacin), and inhaled Cipro (ciprofloxacin) and Novartis for inhaled tobramycin.

Robin predicted that, in 2008, Nektar's PEG and pulmonary businesses will generate approximately $95m in revenue, representing growth of around 12 per cent excluding issues related to Exubera and the contribution from its Irish subsidiary that was recently spun-off.

The year also saw Nektar advance its proprietary development pipeline.

At present the firm has two proprietary products in Phase II clinical trials: Nektar-102, a PEGylated irinotecan being developed for the treatment of colorectal cancer; and Nektar-118, an oral formulation of PEGylated naloxol for opioid-induced bowel dysfunction.

Overall, the firm's spending on research and development increased 2.8 per cent to $153.5m for 2007.

Regarding Exubera, the co-developed inhaled insulin product that was dropped last year by partner Pfizer, Nektar was also generally upbeat.

The firm reported that the product, which according to CFO John Nicholson generated revenue of around $133m in 2007, was attracting a high level interest from a number of potential partners.

Commenting on Exubera's future specifically, CEO Howard Robin said that he was still hopeful that we find a collaboration partner in the next few months.

He added however, that: " there is a point in time

[at] which we will stop supporting Exubera NGI and at that point I guess we will make it known ."

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