PPD Inc. (Nasdaq:PPDI) stock rose nearly 15 percent today on news the company has agreed to buy two medical research laboratories in a stock-cash deal that will add revenue to the contract research organization’s bottom line this year.

Three other North Carolina biotech and pharmaceutical companies also announced deals or earnings today. (See below)

The company also says it is pleased it regained all rights to 100 HIV drug targets from a collaboration partner.

PPD stock closed at $32.45, up $4.22 Thursday, a healthy gain but still off its 52-week high of $38.36. It has a low of $16.84 in the same period. More than 2.1 million shares traded hands by midday, well above the stock’s 30-day volume average of 518,000.

PPD spokesperson Nancy Zeleniak tells LocalTechWire, “The financial details of the acquisitions will be disclosed when the deal is closed in February, but it is accretive rather than dilutive.” That means the purchase of the labs in Cincinnati, Ohio and Belgium will increase PPD’s revenue this year rather than diluting it.

Zeleniak says the two labs, which specialize in metabolic agents that help control diabetes, lower lipids (fats), or affect other bodily processes, employ 235 people. The full staffs will remain in their respective locations under management of Evan Stein, the medical doctor and PhD who founded both companies.

“They’re both strong companies with good management,” she says.

PPD regains rights to HIV targets

Zeleniak says PPD pleased to regain rights to 100 HIV drug targets following a decision by Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc. to end its collaboration agreement with the company.

PPD and Agouron closed the agreement in January 2000, but Pfizer Inc., which acquired Agouron in June the same year, later said it planned to change strategy. Under Pfizer, Agouron suggested contract changes, but PPD made a counter offer to require the HIV drug targets, which it can now further develop or re-license.

Both announcements follow PPD’s report of annual earnings up 25 percent to $432 million compared with net earnings of $345 million in 2000. The company reported earnings of 94 cents per diluted share, up 47 percent from 64 cents per diluted share in 2000.

PPD founder and Chief Executive Officer Fred Eshelman says in the earnings statement that the company improved overall profitability and generated record levels of cash through efficient operations at the 4,500-employee company.

He adds the company has a record new backlog going into this year and is increasing its financial guidance for 2002. It now projects first quarter earnings of 26 or 27 cents a diluted share and annual earnings of $1.21 to $1.25 a diluted share, a 31 percent increase over 2001.

Eshelman founded PPD – Pharmaceutical Product Development — as “a consulting firm of one,” in 1985. The company is the first if not the only contract research organization to diversify from out-sourcing drug discovery services to building its own drug development program.

“Some CROs have diversified downstream to offer drug sales teams,” Zeleniak says, “but we were the first and may be the only one that diversified upstream to do drug development.”

PPD’s business model gives it both immediate cash from the drug discovery technology services it sells for an upfront fee, and also recurring revenue potential through milestone payments and potential royalties.

PPD online:
www. http://www.ppdi.com

Pozen moves migraine drug to final clinical trial

Pozen Inc. (Nasdaq:POZN), a Chapel Hill based drug development company, says it has begun final clinical trials of its injectable drug for severe migraine headaches.

Pozen, which focuses on treatments for migraine, says its MT 300 injectable drug entered the second and final Phase III pivotal trial necessary for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

The trial will treat 400 patients in 30 U.S. medical centers in the second Phase III trial. The drug’s initial Phase III trial with 600 migraine patients at 30 medical centers should be completed this quarter with results available next quarter.

Pozen chairman John R. Plachetka says, “By meeting this deadline, our development timeline, including filing a New Drug Application by the end of this year, remains on schedule.”

The company says the global market for migraine therapy will $2.6 billion this year.

Pozen stock traded at $6.64 Thursday, up 66 cents. It has a 52-week high of $15.93 and a low of $3.50.

For more information: Pozen’s Web site:
www.pozen.com

Other news

aaiPharma Inc. (Nasdaq: AAII) reported record earnings for the fourth quarter of $46.1 million, up 70 percent from the $27.1 million reported for the same period in 2001. The Wilmington company’s stock roses $1.20 to $29.20 a share, up 4.29 percent.

Quintiles (Nasdaq: QTRN), meanwhile, reported it had made a deal with Kos Pharmaceuticals to commercialize and sell two cholesterol drugs in the U.S. Advicor was only approved by the FDA on Dec. 17. Niaspan is among the fastest growing cholesterol treatment drugs, according to Quintiles. Quintiles is based in Research Triangle Park. it’s stock closed up a penny at $16.02.