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Baxter acquires rights to Oncaspar (pegaspargase) from Sigma Tau.

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Last updated:13th May 2015
Published:13th May 2015
Source: Pharmawand

Baxter International Inc.announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the Oncaspar (pegaspargase) product portfolio from Sigma-Tau Finanziaria S.p.A. The acquisition further accelerates the innovation capabilities and the commercial presence of Baxter BioScience in growing oncology markets for rare and orphan diseases. The company gains the leading marketed biologic treatment Oncaspar, the investigational biologic calaspargase pegol, and an established oncology infrastructure with clinical and sales resources. The Oncaspar transaction is expected to close in the third quarter. By mid-year, Baxter expects to establish the BioScience business as a separate, publicly traded, innovation-oriented biopharmaceutical company, Baxalta Incorporated. In addition to the currently marketed formulation of Oncaspar, Baxter BioScience intends to continue the development of a lyophilized formulation, which is being investigated to enhance product stability to support product supply continuity. As part of the acquisition, Baxter BioScience is also acquiring a related new chemical entity calaspargase pegol, a biologic in development for the treatment of ALL with an increased shelf life that is expected to reduce dosing frequency. Further, the company plans to investigate Oncaspar for potential new indications, including in additional ALL patient populations with significant unmet needs, as well as for acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Comment:Oncaspar (pegaspargase) is the only FDA-approved pegylated formulation of L-asparaginase, the enzyme that depletes the amino acid asparagine. For the last 25 years, L-asparaginase has been an important component in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). While normal cells can produce asparagine, leukemic cells are unable to produce enough asparagine to survive on their own. L-asparaginase is given to ALL patients to ensure depletion of asparagine that is circulating in the blood.2 Depletion (starving the leukemic cells) of asparagine ultimately results in leukemic cell death. Oncaspar allows patients to gain the full benefits of asparaginase therapy with enhanced patient convenience over native L-asparaginase (nonpegylated form). Through the process of pegylation, the half-life of L-asparaginase is significantly increased and the L-asparaginase activity is sustained.

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