* First new treatment type for COPD in over a decade
* Important step towards possible IPO, timeline not changed
ZURICH, July 6 Nycomed's [NYCMD.UL] lung drug
Daxas has won European Union backing to treat patients with
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bringing to market the
first new type of treatment for the disease in over a decade.
Daxas, a once-daily oral tablet, is expected to be launched
soon in Britain and Germany, the privately owned Swiss drugmaker
said on Tuesday, possibly helping it to carve out a niche in the
multibillion-dollar worldwide COPD market.
Nycomed, which is aiming for an eventual IPO, struck a deal
with Merck & Co (MRK.N) to help sell its key drug in Europe and
Canada earlier this year, while Forest Laboratories FRX.N
holds U.S. rights to the drug, also known as roflumilast.
The approval was widely expected after Daxas got a green
light from European regulators in April recommending it for
approval as a maintenance treatment for severe COPD, despite a
rebuff in the United States. [ID:nLDE63M10W]
"This is an important step towards a possible IPO, but it
does not change the timeline," said a spokeswoman for Nycomed.
Nycomed has said it could possibly list in the Swiss stock
exchange in 2011 at the earliest, but has so far declined to
give a concrete timeframe.
Daxas is also pivotal for Forest, which is trying to build
its portfolio ahead of the 2012 patent expiration for its
huge-selling antidepressant Lexapro.
Industry analysts have estimated peak annual sales could hit
$500 million or more.
According to WHO estimates, 80 million people suffer from
moderate to severe COPD worldwide and more than 3 million died
from the disease in 2005.
Nycomed, which had sales of 3.2 billion euros ($4.29
billion) in 2009, is majority-owned by four private equity
firms, led by Nordic Capital. The other are Credit Suisse's DLJ
Merchant Banking, Coller International Partners and Avista.
(Reporting by Katie Reid; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)
($1 = 0.7453 euro)