East Coast Biotech Roundup: Biogen, Civitas, Rhythm, Alkermes, & More

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for marketing approval for its schizophrenia drug aripiprazole lauroxil, a long-lasting injectable version of the marketed Abilify that passed its Phase 3 test earlier this year. (Abilify is owned by Otsuka Pharmaceutical.)

—The Boston Business Journal reported Wednesday that biopharma Baxter International (NYSE: BAX) has plans, known as “Project Tiger,” to move its headquarters from suburban Chicago to Cambridge, MA. Baxter refuted the story Thursday.

—Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) of New York, NY, and Merck (NYSE: MRK) of Whitehouse Station, NJ, said Tuesday they will jointly study a combination of Pfizer’s crizotinib (Xalkori) and Merck’s pembrolizumab in a Phase 1b trial for patients with advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer that carries the ALK mutation. The study will begin in 2015. No financial terms were disclosed. Crizotinib is already approved for this form of lung cancer; pembrolizumab is an experimental anti-PD1 immunotherapy that Merck says will be involved in more than 24 clinical trials by the end of 2014.

—Concert Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CNCE) of Lexington, MA, started dosing patients in a Phase 2 clinical trial for a secondary treatment for major depressive disorder, a milestone that lands Concert a $2 million milestone payment under its development and license agreement with Avanir Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AVNR). The experimental treatment, called AVP-786, is a combination of deuterium-modified dextromethorphan and ultra-low dose quinidine. Avanir has worldwide rights to commercialize AVP-786 and other compounds. AVP-786 is one of three partnered compounds that Concert has in clinical trials.

The Wall Street Journal reports that healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is seeking a buyer for its Bridgewater, NJ-based Cordis division, which makes a wide range of stents and catheters. It could bring in as much as $2 billion, the report said.

—Boston-based OncoPep said Thursday it has reeled in a $6.9 million Series B round of financing to continue development of its Phase 1/2a multiple myeloma drug PVX-410. The biotech’s investors include individual and angel groups, family foundations, and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of White Plains, NY, which is contributing $690,000. PVX-410 received orphan drug designation from the FDA in 2013.

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