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Optimer Inks Deal with Aussie Firm

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Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc. recently announced an agreement with Specialised Therapeutics Australia Pty, Ltd. to register and commercialize fidaxomicin tablets in Australia and New Zealand.

As per the deal, Specialised Therapeutics will make milestone payments to Optimer on the achievement of net sales targets. Additionally, Optimer will be paid for supplying fidaxomicin to Specialised Therapeutics. Moreover, Specialised Therapeutics will bear the registration and commercialization costs of the tablets in Australia and New Zealand.         

The product is sold in the US under the trade name, Dificid, for treating patients suffering from clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD) and is currently under priority review in Canada. In the first quarter of 2012, Optimer recorded Dificid sales of $14.4 million.

Besides, the product was approved in Europe in December 2011 for the treatment of adults with clostridium difficile infections (CDI) under the trade name, Dificlir. In early June, Optimer announced that the company is set to receive €10 million in milestone payments from Astellas Pharma, Inc. for first sales of Dificlir tablets in Europe.

In March 2012, Optimer entered into another collaboration and license agreement for Dificlir. Under this deal, the company granted exclusive, royalty-bearing license and intellectual property to Astellas Japan for the development and commercialization of Dificlir in Japan.

Our Take

We believe that the agreement with Specialised Therapeutics Australia will boost the company’s current cash balance. Optimer exited the first quarter of 2012 with cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments of $71 million.

The sole marketed product at Optimer is Dificid. Even though the European approval of the drug should aid sales, we remain concerned about Optimer’s dependence on a single product for growth. We believe the company lacks a decent pipeline candidate.

Currently, we have a Neutral long-term stance on Optimer. The stock carries a Zacks #3 Rank (“Hold” rating) in the short run.

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