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Jan 29 (Reuters) - Bankrupt drugmaker Dendreon Corp has reached a stalking-horse deal with Canada's Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc to sell the worldwide rights to its cancer vaccine, Provenge, and certain assets for $296 million.
The deal is subject to higher and better bids and extended the bid deadline to Feb. 10 for interested parties to participate in an auction, Dendreon said on Thursday.
A stalking-horse bidder often helps draw others to an auction by setting a floor price, but they also require the bankrupt company to commit to paying break-up and other fees if the stalking horse is outbid.
Seattle-based Dendreon filed for bankruptcy protection in November, after sales of Provenge fell short of expectations and left the company deep in debt.
After the drug's approval by U.S. regulators in 2010, hopes were high that Provenge would become a blockbuster. But adoption of the drug, an injection to reprogram the immune system to attack advanced prostate cancer cells, was hindered by its hefty price tag and uncertainty over insurance coverage.
"We are confident that this process will result in a strong new owner for Provenge, and that patients will continue to receive treatments with no disruption moving forward," Dendreon Chief Executive Thomas Amick said in a statement.
Laval, Quebec-based Valeant failed in November to buy Allergan Inc, when the latter accepted a higher offer from Actavis Plc.
Valeant said last month that it was targeting acquisitions in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. It also wants to build up its U.S. dental business and its dermatology, surgical and ophthalmology lines.
"We believe that oncology has similar characteristics to our current therapeutic portfolios ... We have not previously found an economic way to enter this market," Valeant CEO Michael Pearson said in a statement.
Valeant said Provenge had realized revenue of about $300 million in 2014.
Dendreon said in court documents in December that more than 40 parties had signed nondisclosure agreements, indicating interest in bidding on its assets.
Assuming additional qualified bids are submitted, an auction would be held on Feb. 12, Dendreon said.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is Valeant's legal adviser. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is serving as Dendreon's legal adviser while AlixPartners is its financial adviser. (Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)